Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society

Research Articles

Extreme prematurity and neuropsychological outcome in the preschool years

SARAH RAZa1 c1, ANGELA K. DEBASTOSa2, JULIE BAPP NEWMANa3 and DANIEL BATTONa4

a1 Developmental Neuropsychology Laboratory, Department of Psychology and the Merrill-Palmer Institute, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan

a2 Neuropsychology Program, Department of Psychiatry, Children’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts

a3 Department of Psychology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan

a4 Professor of Pediatrics, Southern Illinois University Medical School, Springfield, Illinois

Abstract

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. (JINS, 2010, 16, 169–179.)

(Received December 11 2008)

(Reviewed September 28 2009)

(Accepted September 30 2009)

Correspondence:

c1 Correspondence and reprint requests to: Sarah Raz, Developmental Neuropsychology Laboratory, Department of Psychology and the Merrill-Palmer Institute, Wayne State University, 71 E. Ferry, Detroit, MI 48202. E-mail: sarahraz@wayne.edu