Growth after preterm birth and cognitive functioning and mental health in adulthood

Sara Sammallahti

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Background: Preterm birth (before 37 weeks of gestation) is a major cause of infant mortality and morbidity worldwide, and preventing its burden is a health care priority. Even in adulthood, individuals who were born preterm perform, on average, worse on tests of cognitive functioning than term-born peers do, and may have more mental health problems. Early growth failure is common among preterm individuals, and some studies have suggested that those preterm individuals who grow poorly in infancy have more neurodevelopmental problems later on in childhood. It is unclear whether these associations persist into adulthood and whether they extend beyond the smallest and most immature of preterm infants, to the majority of preterm infants who are born late preterm (at 34-36 completed weeks of gestation). It also remains unknown whether early postnatal growth patterns predict mental health outcomes - some partly conflicting evidence suggests that intrauterine growth restriction at least associates with mental health problems. The mechanisms explaining the associations between growth and neurodevelopment are also unclear. Early growth reflects a number of intertwined early-life environmental factors and individual characteristics, and while altering neonatal nutrition can affect growth, it is not known whether changes in nutrition can improve long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes. It has even been suggested that faster growth and higher nutritional intakes during the early postnatal period can present a trade-off between improved neurodevelopment and increased cardiovascular risk. Methods: The 157 participants of the Helsinki Study of Very Low Birth Weight Adults (HeSVA, birth weight
Original languageEnglish
  • Räikkönen, Katri, Supervisor
  • Kajantie, Eero, Supervisor
  • Andersson, Sture, Supervisor
Award date7 Apr 2018
Place of PublicationHelsinki
Print ISBNs978-951-51-4114-9
Electronic ISBNs978-951-51-4115-6
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Bibliographical note

M1 - 134 s. + liitteet

Fields of Science

  • Adolescent Development
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity
  • Child Development
  • Cognition
  • Cognition Disorders
  • Depression
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Educational Status
  • Energy Intake
  • Executive Function
  • Infant, Premature
  • +growth & development
  • +psychology
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight
  • Intelligence
  • Mental Health
  • Memory
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Nutritional Status
  • Premature Birth
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders
  • Weight Gain
  • 3123 Gynaecology and paediatrics
  • 515 Psychology
  • 3124 Neurology and psychiatry

Cite this