Low birthweight related to poorer vision later in life

August 1, 2007

London-Adolescents born with very low birthweights have poorer visual outcomes than their normal-birthweight peers, according to results of a study published in the Archives of Diseases in Childhood-Fetal and Neonatal Edition.

London-Adolescents born with very low birthweights have poorer visual outcomes than their normal-birthweight peers, according to results of a study published in the Archives of Diseases in Childhood-Fetal and Neonatal Edition. The findings corroborate previous research.

Researchers at the Karolinska Institute and Göteborg and Linköping universities in Sweden conducted a population-based, case-control study that evaluated the vision of 59 15-year-olds who had weighed less than 1,500 g (about 3.3 lbs.) at birth as well as 55 matched controls born at birthweights considered to be normal.

Investigators measured visual acuity, stereo acuity, and cycloplegic refraction; identified visual difficulties via structured history-taking; and assessed intelligence using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children. Also, 57 of the very low birthweight adolescents underwent brain examination via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

The study authors found significant differences between the two groups in visual acuity, stereo acuity, prevalence of astigmatism, full-scale IQ, and performance IQ. The adolescents with abnormal MRI findings also had more pronounced visual and cognitive dysfunction.

“The findings indicate a cerebral causative component for the visual dysfunction seen in the present study,” the researchers concluded.