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Intellectual Development in a Danish Cohort of Prematurely Born Preschool Children: Specific or General Difficulties?

HOFF ESBJØRN, BARBARA Cand. Psych., Ph.D.1; HANSEN, BO MØLHOLM M.D., Ph.D.2; GREISEN, GORM M.D., Dr. Med. Sci.2; MORTENSEN, ERIK LYKKE Cand. Psych.3

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: December 2006 - Volume 27 - Issue 6 - pp 477-484
Original Articles

A national cohort of extremely low birth weight (ELBW) and/or extremely preterm (EPT) children and a term control group was followed up at the age of 5 years. The primary objective was to investigate whether premature birth had a global impact on cognitive functions or affected specific functions only. Assessment tools were Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence-Revised (WPPSI-R), Movement Assessment Battery for Children (M-ABC), and subtests from the Neuropsychological Assessment 4-7 years (NEPSY). The mean Full Scale IQ (FSIQ) and M-ABC score of the index children were 1.1 and 1.2 SDs lower than that of the control children (p <.001). Most WPPSI-R subtests showed medium to large differences between index and control children, suggesting a global impact of premature birth on cognitive functions. For both unadjusted and FSIQ adjusted means, no significant group differences on tests of memory or executive function were observed (p >.1), suggesting little impact of premature birth on these specific functions. In this sample, cognitive difficulties in 5-year-old ELBW and/or EPT children tended to be associated with general intellectual difficulties rather than with specific dysfunctions; however, the implications of this finding are ambiguous due to substantial attrition on the NEPSY subtests.

1Department of Psychology, University Clinic, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

2Department of Neonatology, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark

3Department of Health Psychology, Institute of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

Received July 2004; accepted July 2006.

Address for reprints: Barbara Hoff Esbjørn, Cand. Psych. Ph.D., Stampevej 31, 2970 Hørsholm, Denmark; e-mail: barbara_hoff@mail.dk.

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.