Objective: To investigate whether birth weight and paternal education may have independent and interactive effects on the learning achievement of adolescents. Study design: We linked birth weights, gestational ages (term or preterm) and paternal education of a 4-year birth cohort to the Basic Competence Test (BCT) scores in Mandarin, mathematics and science for junior high school students age 15 to 16 years. The study groups comprised infants with term low birth weight (TLBW; n = 33 507), preterm normal birth weight (PNBW; n =19 905), and preterm low birth weight (PLBW; n = 25 840), as well as randomly selected term infants with normal birth weight (TNBW; n = 83 756). Paternal education levels were categorized. Results: Compared with the TNBW adolescents, the TLBW adolescents consistently showed larger deficits in mean scores for Mandarin (β = -2.36), mathematics (β = -2.89), and science (β = -2.11). The corresponding significant deficit scores for the PLBW adolescents were -1.93, -2.80, and -1.92. The deficit scores were very small for the PNBW adolescents. Paternal education was inversely associated with scores of all 3 groups. Lower paternal education level tended to worsen the negative impact of low birth weight on BCT scores. Conclusions: Both lower birth weight and lower paternal education exert an independent and interactive effect on adolescent learning achievement.
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