Mathematical performance in childhood and early adult outcomes after very preterm birth: an individual participant data meta-analysis

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Aim: To investigate the strength of the independent associations of mathematics performance in children born very preterm (<32wks' gestation or <1500g birthweight) with attending postsecondary education and their current employment status in young adulthood. Method: We harmonized data from six very preterm birth cohorts from five different countries and carried out one-stage individual participant data meta-analyses (n=954, 52% female) using mixed effects logistic regression models. Mathematics scores at 8 to 11 years of age were z-standardized using contemporary cohort-specific controls. Outcomes included any postsecondary education, and employment/education status in young adulthood. All models were adjusted for year of birth, gestational age, sex, maternal education, and IQ in childhood. Results: Higher mathematics performance in childhood was independently associated with having attended any postsecondary education (odds ratio [OR] per SD increase in mathematics z-score: 1.36 [95% confidence interval {CI}: 1.03, 1.79]) but not with current employment/education status (OR 1.14 per SD increase [95% CI: 0.87, 1.48]). Interpretation: Among populations born very preterm, childhood mathematics performance is important for adult educational attainment, but not for employment status.

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Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology