Self-reported Chronic Pain in Young Adults With a Low Birth Weight

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To investigate self-reported pain in young adults with a low birth weight.

Materials and Methods:

This study was a part of a long-term follow-up study of preterm very low birth weight (VLBW; birth weight ≤1500 g), term small for gestational age (SGA; birth weight <10th percentile adjusted for sex and parity), and control young adults born during 1986 to 1988. Of the 300 individuals invited, 216 (62 VLBW, 67 term SGA, and 87 controls) completed a pain questionnaire. Of these, 151 (70%) had answered a pain severity question at 19 years. Chronic pain was defined as pain lasting for >6 months and being moderate, severe, or very severe during the past 4 weeks.


The prevalence of chronic pain at 26 years was 16% in the VLBW group, 21% in the term SGA group, and 7% in the control group. The VLBW and the term SGA groups had higher odds ratios for chronic pain (crude OR, 2.6; 95% CI, 0.9-7.6 for the VLBW group and crude OR, 3.6; 95% CI, 1.3-9.9 for the term SGA group vs. controls). The main results remained after adjusting for potential confounding factors. Some attenuation was observed when adjusting for anxiety and depressive problems. Moderate to very severe pain increased from 16% to 41% in the term SGA group from 19 to 26 years, whereas less changes were seen in the VLBW and the control groups.


Results of our study imply that pain should be in focus when conducting long-term follow-up programs of individuals with a low birth weight.

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