Executive function in very preterm children at early school age

C.S.H. Aarnoudse-Moens, D.P. Smidts, J. Oosterlaan, N. Weisglas-Kuperus

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We examined whether very preterm (≤ 30 weeks gestation) children at early school age have impairments in executive function (EF) independent of IQ and processing speed, and whether demographic and neonatal risk factors were associated with EF impairments. A consecutive sample of 50 children (27 boys and 23 girls) born very preterm (mean age∈=∈5.9 years, SD∈=∈0.4, mean gestational age∈=∈28.0 weeks, SD∈=∈1.4) was compared to a sample of 50 age-matched full-term controls (23 girls and 27 boys, mean age∈=∈6.0 years, SD∈=∈0.6) with respect to performance on a comprehensive EF battery, assessing the domains of inhibition, working memory, switching, verbal fluency, and concept generation. The very preterm group demonstrated poor performance compared to the controls on all EF domains, even after partialing out the effects of IQ. Processing speed was marginally related to EF. Analyses with demographic and neonatal risk factors showed maternal education and gestational age to be related to EF. This study adds to the emerging body of literature showing that very preterm birth is associated with EF impairments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)981-993
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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