Objective: Very preterm children can experience cognitive and behavioral difficulties. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of very preterm birth on visuospatial processes at preschool age.
Design and methods: Data come from the Epipage study. Participants underwent a follow-up evaluation at age 5 years. During the psychological evaluation, children took subtests of the K-ABC and the WPPSI-R. Six subtests are based on visuospatial information.
Results: The results concern 183 children assessed in the Lorraine region of France, who were born with birthweight appropriate for gestational age and had no neurological sequelae. Thirty-six children were born at term, 112 were born very prematurely (28-32 GW), and 35 were born extremely prematurely (<28 GW). Birth term was significantly correlated with performance on the six subtests. In all cases, the children born at term obtained higher scores compared to the children born very prematurely and extremely prematurely. On two subtests of the K-ABC, the children born extremely prematurely obtained lower scores than those of the children born very prematurely. The mother's level of education was correlated with performance on three subtests.
Conclusion: The results suggest that a very preterm birth can exert a negative impact on visuospatial and visuomotor processes. These deficits may involve difficulties in some activities at school and in daily life.