Attention in 3-year-old children with VLBW and relationships with early school outcomes

Gijs Verkerk*, Martine Jeukens-Visser, Bregje Houtzager, Aleid Van Wassenaer-Leemhuis, Karen Koldewijn, Frans Nollet, Joke Kok

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Aim: To compare attention skills of children with a very low birth weight (VLBW) with children with a normal birth weight (NBW) when entering primary school, and explore the association of attention skills with school career 2 years later. Methods: Participants were 151 children with VLBW and 41 with NBW. Attention was assessed at 3 years and 8 months of corrected age (CA) and school career at 5 1/2 years of CA. Children performed two tests, parents completed three questionnaires, and an assessor systematically observed children's attention. Results: Children with VLBW had significantly lower mean scores on five of the six measures. Significantly more children with VLBW had scores in the clinical range on the Child Behavior Checklist completed by the parents (13% versus 0%) and scores representing dysfunction on assessor observations (19% versus 2%). At 5 1/2 years of age, 36% of the children with VLBW followed special education or had grade retention. Dysfunctional attention as observed by the assessor was most strongly associated with need for learning support at 5 1/2 years of age. Conclusions: At preschool age, children with VLBW have attention difficulties. Attentive behavior at preschool age is a predictor of school career 2 years later.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-72
Number of pages14
JournalPhysical and Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Attention
  • behavior
  • children born preterm
  • educational provision
  • preterm infant
  • very low birth weight


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