Bilingualism as a potential strategy to improve executive function in preterm infants: a review

J Pediatr Health Care. Mar-Apr 2015;29(2):126-36. doi: 10.1016/j.pedhc.2014.08.015. Epub 2014 Oct 1.


Preterm birth is associated with long-term deficits in executive functioning and cognitive performance. Using the model of brain plasticity as a theoretical framework, it is possible that preterm infants' neurodevelopmental sequelae can be altered. Evidence suggests that bilingualism confers cognitive advantages on executive functioning, so it is possible that bilingualism may improve preterm infants' neurodevelopment. However, bilingualism has only been studied in term children. This review examined literature that compared the performance of preterm-born children to term children and bilingual children to monolingual children on executive function tasks. To address cognitive disparities in preterm-born children, studies investigating the effect of bilingualism on preterm infants' executive functioning is warranted.

Keywords: Preterm; bilingual; executive function; plasticity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Development* / physiology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Executive Function* / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Male
  • Multilingualism*
  • Neuronal Plasticity* / physiology