Date of Graduation

Fall 2010


Master of Science in Nursing



Committee Chair

Kathryn Hope


Low birthweight (LBW) is defined as infants that weigh less than or equal to 2,500 grams at birth (Venes, 2001). LBW children can suffer from poor school performance, developmental delays, and cognitive impairments (Behrman et al., 2004; Rhode Island KIDS COUNT Factbook, 2009). The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship of cognitive abilities in adolescence to birthweight, gestational age, and demographic factors in infants who were born LBW. The standardized Wide Range Intelligence Test (WRIT) was used to evaluate verbal and visual areas of cognitive ability. This was a replication of a study that investigated the same research questions of children at school age (5 to 12 years of age). A descriptive cross-sectional design was used with a convenience sample of 11 participants born LBW, now between the ages of 13 and 18. Major findings include: the mean Visual IQ of participants was lower than the mean Verbal IQ; clinically significant, but not statistically significant relationships between cognitive ability and birthweight or gestational age; significant relationships between demographic variables (parental education and income) and cognitive ability. Study implications include the need to identify preterm, LBW adolescents as they may be at risk for visual deficits, especially those individuals from households with fewer resources.


low birthweight (LBW), very low birthweight (VLBW), preterm, premature, cognitive abilities, development, intelligence, adolescence

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© Lauren Haddow Shehan

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