Article

The profile of executive function in very preterm children at 4 to 12 years

Division of Neonatology, Department of Pediatrics, Erasmus University Medical Centre, Sophia Children's Hospital, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology (Impact Factor: 3.29). 11/2011; 54(3):247-53. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2011.04150.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To examine executive functioning in very preterm (gestational age ≤30 wks) children at 4 to 12 years of age.
Two-hundred very preterm (106 males, 94 females; mean gestational age 28.1wks, SD 1.4; mean age 8y 2mo, SD 2y 6mo) and 230 term children (106 males, 124 females; mean gestational age 39.9wks, SD 1.2; mean age 8y 4mo, SD 2y 3mo) without severe disabilities, born between 1996 and 2004, were assessed on an executive function battery comprising response inhibition, interference control, switching, verbal fluency, verbal and spatial working memory, and planning. Multiple regression analyses examined group differences while adjusting for effects of parental education, age, sex, and speed indices.
Relative to children born at term, very preterm children had significant (p(s) <0.02; where p(s) represents p-values) deficits in verbal fluency (0.5 standardized mean differences [SMD]), response inhibition (0.4 SMD), planning (0.4 SMD), and verbal and spatial working memory (0.3 SMD), independent of slow and highly fluctuating processing speed. A significant group by age interaction indicated that group differences for response inhibition decreased between 4 and 12 years.
Very preterm birth is associated with a profile of affected and non-affected executive functions independent of impaired speed. Deficits are of small to moderate magnitude and persist over time, except for response inhibition for which very preterm children catch up with peers.

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    • "Effects of preterm birth were also found on verbal working memory at school age with more pronounced differences between preterm and full-term children when demands were highest, impacting children's functional performance [Aarnoudse-Moens et al., 2009; Clark and Woodward, 2010]. Findings on shifting were influenced by tasks used, showing contrasting results and pointing out the need for more studies to establish how task interacted with preterm children's performance [Mulder et al., 2009; Rose et al., 2011; Aarnoudse-Moens et al., 2012]. Clark and Woodward [2010] revealed that very preterm children without cerebral abnormalities during the neonatal period performed similarly to full-term children at 6 years corrected age on verbal and visuospatial working memory. "
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