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Host: Siri E. Håberg, Centre for Fertility and Health
Abstract: Preterm birth is an established risk factor for neurodevelopmental disabilities - but the great majority of individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities are born at term. Risk factors among term births are potentially important. The role of fetal growth restriction, in particular, has not been thoroughly explored in term babies. We conducted a population-based study of term birth weight and its link to a range of neurodevelopmental outcomes using different Norwegian health registries. To exclude the influence of preterm birth (and thus immaturity), we restricted analyses to a narrow range of term births (39 to 41 weeks). We found that lower birth weight at term is related to many severe neurodevelopmental disorders, among others cerebral palsy, intellectual impairment, ADHD, and autism. Our results remained robust in several sensitivity analyses, including a sibling comparison. Our findings provide evidence that fetal growth restriction may be an important marker for neuropsychiatric illness, independent of preterm birth.