Maternal perinatal events as predictors of educational placement : computation of relative risk ratios

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VanHorn, Renee E. Minick
Dean, Raymond S.
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Thesis (Ph. D.)
Department of Educational Psychology
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This study examined the relative risk of perinatal complications in common childhood disorders. Specifically, the ability of perinatal complications to predict membership into children's disorders was studied. The sample consisted of 634 normal children and children with mental retardation, learning disabilities, and emotional handicaps, whose mothers completed the Maternal Perinatal Scale (WS). Seven MPS items significantly contributed to the prediction of the mentally retarded, learning disabled, emotionally handicapped, and regular education groups. The two significant discriminant functions correctly classified about 46% of the students, with the greatest misclassification occuring for those with emotional handicaps. When the separate disorders were collapsed to form a single group, eleven MPS items significantly contributed to the prediction of the special education and regular education groups. The linear composite from discriminant function analysis correctly classified about 74% of the students. Some 89% of the special education students were correctly classified. When MPS factors were used as predictors, 90% of the special education students were correctly classified. Seven MPS factors comprised the discriminant function. Relative risk ratios were computed for each perinatal item. Significant relative risk ratios included maternal weight over 151 pounds, saddle block anesthesia, no anesthesia, stress during pregnancy, prenatal care, medically induced labor, unplanned pregnancy, medication use during pregnancy, hypoxia, and cigarette use during pregnancy. An overall relative risk of 6.35 was computed based on the linear composite of perinatal variables defined by the discriminant function, suggesting that a suggesting that a synergism of perinatal complications makes a child over 6 times more likely to be placed in special education. A second overall relative risk of 3.83 was derived from the linear composite of MPS factor scores. This indicated that children with a perinatal history marked by this particular combination of perinatal complications were nearly 4 times as likely to require special educational services. Results were discussed in terms of comorbidity among special education categories. The potential use of the MPS as a screener for early intervention was also discussed.