Mikael Julius Sømhovd defends his PhD-thesis at the Department of Psychology – University of Copenhagen

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Mikael Julius Sømhovd defends his PhD-thesis at the Department of Psychology


Mikael Julius Sømhovd


"Anxiety symptoms in preterm born adolescents". The thesis will be available for reading at the Faculty Library of Social Science, Gothersgade 140, 1353 Copenhagen K.

Time and venue

Wednesday 22 August 2018 at 13:00. Kindly note that the defense will start precisely at the announced time. University of Copenhagen, Faculty Library of Social Science, Auditorium 1, Gothersgade 140, 1353 Copenhagen K.

Assessment committee

  • Professor, Erik Lykke Mortensen, (chairman), Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Professor, Mikael Thastum, Aarhus University, Denmark
  • Associate Professor, Marianne Villabø, Akershus Universitetssykehus, Norway


This thesis investigates the incidence of anxiety symptomology in prematurely born infants with very low (less than 1500 grams) or extremely low birth weight (less than 1000 grams). The thesis gives an overview of adverse consequences of premature birth. Via somatic, neurological, cognitive, behavioral, and emotional difficulties, the scope narrows to the topic of anxiety development as a possible outcome of premature birth. The thesis also comprises three articles. The first article (Article 1) is a systematic review with meta-analysis comparing clinically relevant anxiety symptoms in prematurely born with very low birth weight to term born peers. The meta-analysis synthesise data from five studies on the topic with 787 prematurely born and 732 peers, when in adolescent and youth.

Article 2, is a confirmatory factor analysis and validation of an anxiety symptoms scale, the revised Children Anxiety and Depression Scale (RCADS). This study is based on a community sample of 667 Danish youths. The RCADS is used for the third article. Article 3, deploys RCADS in the investigation of anxiety symptoms in a cohort of prematurely born with extremely low birth weight. This study assesses whether there are more anxiety symptoms in the study cohort (n = 96) compared to a control group of term born peers (n = 40). The youth and their mothers report anxiety symptoms separately, and the reporting correlations are reported for total anxiety symptoms and social anxiety symptoms.

Article 1, the meta-analysis, suggested there were an approximate two-fold increase of clinically relevant anxiety symptoms in adolescents born with very low birth weight. Article 2 concludes that RCADS is a useful measure of anxiety symptoms in Danish children, and is suitable for use in the cohort study in article 3. Article 3 indicates a possible increase in anxiety in the prematurely born with extremely low birth weight in line with the increase detected in article 1. The latter study also suggests there are better concordance between mothers of the prematurely born and their children in reporting of anxiety symptoms compared to the term born control group.