Considerable research has investigated the consequences of being born very preterm (VP; <32 weeks of gestation), especially in relation to cognitive functioning. While numerous cognitive and neuropsychological outcome studies have been published, it is important to consider methodological issues when reviewing this research, as the generalizability of the studies varies greatly. This article describes the nature of cognitive difficulties confronting VP children, both in terms of the frequency and severity of deficits. The breadth of cognitive difficulties reported in this population implies a generalized cognitive impairment; however, the presence of selective or primary cognitive deficits is discussed. It is concluded that whereas mortality and neonatal morbidity rates have decreased significantly in VP infants in recent decades, these children continue to be at significant risk for cognitive impairments and need to be closely monitored throughout childhood.
Keywords: Attention; Cognition; Development; Neuropsychology; Very low birth weight; Very preterm.
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