Prevalence of psychiatric diagnoses in preterm and full-term children, adolescents and young adults: A meta-analysis

A. C. Burnett, P. J. Anderson, J. Cheong, L. W. Doyle, C. G. Davey, S. J. Wood

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59 Citations (Scopus)


Background Preterm (PT) birth and low birth weight (LBW) are high-prevalence events that are associated with adverse outcomes in the longer term, with vulnerability increasing as maturity at birth decreases. Psychiatric symptomatology appears heightened in PT/LBW survivors, though there are some discordant findings from studies using questionnaire measures, particularly with respect to anxiety and depressive symptoms.Method This article synthesises findings from research using clinical psychiatric diagnostic criteria in PT/LBW individuals aged 10-25 years compared with term-born peers. Key outcomes of interest were the rates of individuals receiving any psychiatric diagnosis and the number of diagnoses of anxiety or depressive disorders.Results A literature search for studies reporting prevalence of 'any diagnosis' yielded five studies that met inclusion criteria, with a total of 565 PT/LBW and 533 control individuals. Also, five studies were found that reported rates of anxiety/depression (692 PT/LBW and 605 control individuals). The risk of these outcomes was increased for PT/LBW individuals compared with controls [any diagnosis: odds ratio (OR) 3.66, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.57-5.21; anxiety or depressive disorder: OR 2.86, 95% CI 1.73-4.73].Conclusions The studies reviewed here indicate that, in addition to monitoring and management of medical and cognitive sequelae, the psychological well-being of PT/LBW individuals should be a key part of ongoing care. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2463-2474
Number of pages12
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescence
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • meta-analysis
  • prematurity

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