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. 2015 Mar;91(3):227-33.
doi: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2015.01.013. Epub 2015 Feb 20.

Sensory Processing in Preterm Preschoolers and Its Association With Executive Function

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Free PMC article

Sensory Processing in Preterm Preschoolers and Its Association With Executive Function

Jenna N Adams et al. Early Hum Dev. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Background: Symptoms of abnormal sensory processing have been related to preterm birth, but have not yet been studied specifically in preterm preschoolers. The degree of association between sensory processing and other domains is important for understanding the role of sensory processing symptoms in the development of preterm children.

Aims: To test two related hypotheses: (1) preterm preschoolers have more sensory processing symptoms than full term preschoolers and (2) sensory processing is associated with both executive function and adaptive function in preterm preschoolers.

Study design: Cross-sectional study.

Subjects: Preterm children (≤34weeks of gestation; n=54) and full term controls (≥37weeks of gestation; n=73) ages 3-5years.

Outcome measures: Sensory processing was assessed with the Short Sensory Profile. Executive function was assessed with (1) parent ratings on the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function - Preschool version and (2) a performance-based battery of tasks. Adaptive function was assessed with the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales-II.

Results: Preterm preschoolers showed significantly more sensory symptoms than full term controls. A higher percentage of preterm than full term preschoolers had elevated numbers of sensory symptoms (37% vs. 12%). Sensory symptoms in preterm preschoolers were associated with scores on executive function measures, but were not significantly associated with adaptive function.

Conclusions: Preterm preschoolers exhibited more sensory symptoms than full term controls. Preterm preschoolers with elevated numbers of sensory symptoms also showed executive function impairment. Future research should further examine whether sensory processing and executive function should be considered independent or overlapping constructs.

Keywords: Adaptive function; Executive function; Preterm birth; Sensory processing.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of Interest: The authors have no conflicts of interest relevant to this article to disclose.

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