Small-for-Gestational Age Birth Confers Similar Educational Performance through Middle School

K. Murthy*, Krzysztof Karbownik, Craig F. Garfield, Gustave H. Falciglia, Jeffrey Roth, David N. Figlio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: To estimate the association between small for gestational age (SGA) at birth and educational performance on standardized testing and disability prevalence in elementary and middle school. Study design: Through linked birth certificates and school records, surviving infants born at 23-41 weeks of gestation who entered Florida's public schools 1998-2009 were identified. Twenty-three SGA definitions (3rd-25th percentile) were derived. Outcomes were scores on Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) and students' disability classification in grades 3 through 8. A “sibling cohort” subsample included families with at least 2 siblings from the same mother in the study period. Multivariable models estimated independent relationships between SGA and outcomes. Results: Birth certificates for 80.2% of singleton infants were matched to Florida public school records (N = 1 254 390). Unadjusted mean FCAT scores were 0.236 SD lower among <10th percentile SGA infants compared with non-SGA infants; this difference declined to −0.086 SD after adjusting for maternal and infant characteristics. When siblings discordant in SGA status were compared within individual families, the association declined to −0.056 SD. For SGA <10th percentile infants, the observed prevalence of school-age disability was 15.0%, 7.7%, and 6.3% for unadjusted, demographics-adjusted, and sibling analyses, respectively. No inflection or discontinuity was detected across SGA definitions from 3rd to 25th percentile in either outcome, and the associations were qualitatively similar. Conclusions: The associations between SGA birth and students' standardized test scores and well-being were quantitatively small but persisted through elementary and middle school. The observed deficits were largely mitigated by demographic and familial factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-165.e7
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
StatePublished - Sep 2019


  • SGA
  • child development
  • longitudinal data
  • test scores

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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