Extreme prematurity and neuropsychological outcome in the preschool years

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2010 Jan;16(1):169-79. doi: 10.1017/S1355617709991147. Epub 2009 Nov 10.


With the increasing survival of extremely preterm (EP) birth infants in the surfactant era, the longer-term outcome of infants born at the threshold of viability has become a vital topic of study. The goal of this investigation was twofold. First, while taking into account the influence of sociodemographic confounds, we wished to investigate neuropsychological outcome differences between two groups of EP preschoolers: 23-24 weeks (n = 20), and 25-26 weeks' (n = 21) gestation at delivery. Second, we wished to explore whether, within the population of EP preschoolers, gestational maturity accounts for a unique portion of the variance in neuropsychological outcome, over and above the variance explained by ante-, peri-, and neonatal complications, or treatment factors. The findings revealed group differences, ranging from .70 to .80 of a standard deviation in general intellectual abilities, nonverbal intelligence, and global motor performance, in favor of the more mature EP group. Additionally, gestational maturity was found to explain a unique portion of the variance in global intellectual and motor abilities. These findings are interpreted from the perspective that gestational age is an index of the vulnerability of the central nervous system to disruption of developmentally regulated processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / psychology
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Premature Birth / physiopathology*
  • Premature Birth / psychology*