Problems of self-regulation: a new way to view deficits in children born prematurely

Issues Ment Health Nurs. Apr-May 2001;22(3):305-23.


While survival rates for the smallest infants are increasing, so is the rate of disability. Low birth rate children are at increased risk for psychiatric and behavioral symptoms especially those related to attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders. Researchers have demonstrated that even "normal" low birth weight (LBW) children receive special educational services at an alarming rate. Little is understood about the processes responsible for these academic delays. Preventative interventions cannot be implemented without understanding the underlying developmental processes. The study of self-regulation (SR) of cognition and the factors that may influence the development of regulatory capacity are suggested as a way to frame future work. SR of cognition refers to one's ability to select and use information appropriately. Problems in the development of the self-regulation of attention may explain deficits in the acquisition of cognitive skills as well as other deficits. The argument is made that specific variables may directly, indirectly or in both ways influence mechanisms and processes underlying the development of attention in LBW children. It is proposed that studying the SR of cognition provides a potentially useful and powerful focus for intervention research.

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Early Intervention, Educational
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight / psychology*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / psychology*
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Learning Disabilities / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Environment