A comparison of executive function in very preterm and term infants at 8 months corrected age

Sun, Jing, Mohay, Heather and O'Callaghan, Michael (2009) A comparison of executive function in very preterm and term infants at 8 months corrected age. Early Human Development, 85 4: 225-230. doi:10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2008.10.005

Author Sun, Jing
Mohay, Heather
O'Callaghan, Michael
Title A comparison of executive function in very preterm and term infants at 8 months corrected age
Journal name Early Human Development   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0378-3782
Publication date 2009
Year available 2008
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2008.10.005
Volume 85
Issue 4
Start page 225
End page 230
Total pages 6
Editor E. F. Maalouf
Place of publication Shannon, Ireland
Publisher Elsevier Ireland
Language eng
Abstract Background Executive function (EF) emerges in infancy and continues to develop throughout childhood. Executive dysfunction is believed to contribute to learning and attention problems in children at school age. Children born very preterm are more prone to these problems than their full-term peers. Aim To compare EF in very preterm and full-term infants at 8 months after expected date of delivery. Subjects 37 very preterm infants without identified disabilities, and 74 gender and age matched healthy full-term infants. The very preterm infants were all ≤ 32 weeks gestation and < 1250 g birthweight. Outcome measures EF tasks which measured working memory, inhibition of distraction, and planning at 8 months after expected date of delivery. Results The very preterm infants performed significantly more poorly than the full-term infants on all measures of executive function. No significant differences were found between very preterm and full-term infants on any of potentially confounding variables of, infant temperament, maternal education, family income and maternal psychological wellbeing. Very preterm infants had significantly lower scores on the Mental Development Index (MDI) and Psychomotor Development Index (PDI) on the Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID II), however when this was partialled out the differences in EF scores remained. Medical complications, lower birthweight and lower gestation age were all found to adversely affect the performance of very preterm infants on executive function tasks. Conclusion Very preterm infants performed more poorly than full-term infants on measures of EF. Further follow up studies are required to investigate whether EF measures in infancy can predict learning and attention outcome at school age.
Keyword Executive function
Very preterm infants
Working memory
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ
Additional Notes Available online 8 November 2008.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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Created: Wed, 21 Apr 2010, 09:30:39 EST by Denise Wilson on behalf of Medicine - Princess Alexandra Hospital