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  1. Braid, Susan DrPH, MSN, MPH, NNP, RN
  2. Donohue, Pamela K. ScD, PA
  3. Strobino, Donna M. PhD


PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to explore the influence wealth has on cognitive development in 2-year-old children who were born preterm, and to determine whether racial/ethnic differences in wealth explained disparities in cognitive development.


SUBJECTS: A nationally representative sample of 1400 children who were born between 22 and 36 weeks' gestation.


DESIGN: Cohort study.


METHODS: Secondary data analysis of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B). The ECLS-B was a prospective national longitudinal study of infants born in the United States during the calendar year 2001 drawn from birth certificates in the United States.


MAIN OUTCOMES: The impact wealth (parental homeownership and investments) had on cognitive development at 2 years and whether wealth eliminated the cognitive disparity seen between white, African American, and Hispanic children.


PRINCIPAL RESULTS: Wealth (homeownership and investments) did not have an independent effect on cognitive development, but it did eliminate the disparity between white children and African American children (P >= .05). However, wealth did not eliminate the disparity in cognitive development between white children and Hispanic children. Hispanic children scored 3.91 points lower than white children (P <= .001).


CONCLUSION: In contrast to other follow-up studies showing persistent differences in cognitive development between white children and African American children, this study found that wealth indicators attenuated the difference. Wealth may be a more accurate proxy for socioeconomic status in studying factors influencing cognitive outcomes in children born preterm than just using measures such as maternal education and income. In future follow-up studies of multiracial preterm children, indicators that represent wealth should be included for an accurate representation of social economic status.