Extreme prematurity in healthy 5-year-old children: a re-analysis of sex effects on event-related brain activity

Psychophysiology. 1998 Nov;35(6):679-89.


A male disadvantage has been reported in several outcome studies of children born preterm. Twenty-two healthy premature children (10 girls, 12 boys) born between 25 and 28 weeks of gestation and 20 controls born full-term (10 boys, 10 girls) were matched on socioeconomical status and age. Event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded by using 14 electrodes in a visual oddball task, with 75% frequent and 25% rare stimuli. This task elicited a larger P3 to the rare than to the frequent stimuli, with a prominent parietocentral localization. However, the amplitude was larger in full-term boys than in full-term girls, a difference that was not observed between preterm boys and preterm girls, especially to targets and on the central electrodes. In addition, the preterm group was characterized by a frontal slow wave larger in boys than in girls. In these prematures, the lack of the sex-related difference may be accounted by differences in the strength of the neuronal generators in males, as they might have been affected by the high level of androgens by the fetal testis under the control of placental gonadotropes during the first two thirds of gestation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / physiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / physiology*
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Sex Factors