Objective: To assess whether adolescents born very preterm (VP; <32 weeks’ gestation) have an excess of mathematics anxiety compared with their classmates born at term. Methods: This cohort study included 127 adolescents born VP (51% male, mean age 13.9 years, SD 0.7) and 95 term-born classmates (56% male, mean age 13.7 years, SD 0.7) who completed the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test 2nd UK Edition and the Mathematics Anxiety Scale-UK at age 11-15 years. Self-reported trait anxiety was assessed using a composite of three items from the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Results: Adolescents born VP had significantly poorer mathematics attainment than adolescents born at term (difference in means: -0.64 SD; 95% CI -0.95, -0.34). However, there were no between-group differences in self-reported mathematics anxiety or trait anxiety. There were significant moderate associations between mathematics anxiety and mathematics attainment for adolescents born VP (rho: -.44) and at term (rho:-.52), after controlling for trait anxiety. Conclusion: Adolescents born VP do not have heightened mathematics anxiety compared with their term- born classmates, despite poorer attainment in mathematics. Improving domain-general cognitive skills and scaffolding learning in the classroom may be more promising avenues for intervention than attempting to reduce mathematics anxiety.
|Journal||Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics|
|Early online date||2 Nov 2020|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 2 Nov 2020|