The goal was to compare educational attainment and labor market outcomes in young adulthood (21–26 years of age) for a Canadian, population-based cohort of 149 extremely low birth weight (ELBW) (<1000 g) survivors and a normal birth weight (NBW) cohort of 133 young adults from the same geographic area who were matched to the ELBW cohort in childhood.
We estimated the effects of ELBW status, according to gender, on continuous outcomes through least-squares regression and those on binary outcomes through logistic regression. We controlled for family background and considered neurosensory impairment and IQ as mediating variables.
Controlling for family background, ELBW male subjects were less likely to complete high school or to attend a university than were their NBW counterparts, and their educational attainment was reduced by >1 year. Among subjects who were working, weekly earnings were ∼27% lower. ELBW female effects on education were not significant, but ELBW female subjects were less likely than NBWsubjects to be employed or in school and they also seemed to experience lower earnings.
Our findings suggested that ELBW survivors are somewhat less productive as adults, on average, than are subjects born NBW and that effects are not confined to subjects with severe neurosensory impairments. In accord with other studies, however, we found that productivity deficits for most ELBW subjects were not large.