Failure of birth data to predict early school difficulties among inner- city, first graders

R. S. Byrd, M. L. Weitzman, A. S. Doniger, K. J. Roghmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives. To determine a set of perinatal characteristics that predict school difficulties in inner-city children by comparing first graders requiring remediation with first graders progressing normally. Methods. In a case-control study, maternal surveys about perinatal characteristics were completed for 74 of 90 remedial pre-first and 62 of 90 randomly selected first graders in the Rochester, NY, City School District. Results. Pre-first graders, as compared with first graders, were more likely to have had birth weights <2,500 g (27% versus 6%). During pregnancy, their mothers were more likely to have been unemployed (73% versus 50%), to have received WIC (68% versus 50%), to have been covered by Medicaid (58% versus 37%), and to have received late or no prenatal care (9% versus 2%). Of these factors, only low birth weight was independently associated with remedial kindergarten placement. Conclusion. Potential risk factors, unfortunately, were fairly prevalent in both groups of inner-city children. While the remedial group was shown to be at greater risk, these findings have little utility in identifying subsets most likely to require remediation at school entry. Because resources aimed at preventing the long-term consequences of early school failure are limited, better means of identifying educational risk at an early age are urgently needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-166
Number of pages12
JournalBulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine: Journal of Urban Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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