Bigger Baby at Birth? Probably Do Better in School, Too, New Study Says

My son weighed one ounce less than nine pounds when he was born, a week early.  The doctors took him at 39 weeks because they were afraid he'd be 10 or 11 pounds if he went full-term.

Now a new study is saying that a higher birth weight can mean better performance in school.

It's really a no-brainer, in the end. It’s no secret that low-birth-weight babies face significantly greater risks for certain health problems early on, such as respiratory distress or infection. Now, a new study from researchers at the University of Florida (UF) and Northwestern University shows that lower weights at birth also have an adverse effect on children’s performance in school, which is likely due to the early health struggles small babies often face.

Studying birth and school records of almost 2 million children in Florida from 1992 to 2002, researchers found the higher the weight at birth, the better children performed on reading and math tests in school. I'm bragging, I admit, but my son scored at the top of his school on a recent national reading test.  The findings held true throughout elementary school and into middle school, regardless of the quality of the schools children attended, according to newswise.com.

These findings held true when socioeconomic and demographic factors were equal among children’s families.  But sadly, when socioeconomic factors and demographics are not equal, higher birth weights don’t always translate to better performance in school.

 For example, lower-birth-weight babies of highly educated parents tend to perform better in school than heavier babies of high school dropouts because the educational level of a child’s mother is a stronger predictor of school success, researchers said. But when they compare children with similar family backgrounds, birth weight plays a key role in predicting future school success.

So is my kid smart because of me?  I highly doubt it.  I never earned higher than a "C" in math and he's snagging "A's" in 9th grade honors algebra, even though he's only in 8th.  Am I grateful he's doing so well?  Of course.  But I can't take any of the credit.


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