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Executive Functioning and Learning Skills of Adolescent Children Born at Fewer than 26 Weeks of Gestation
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, Paediatrics.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, Paediatrics.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
2016 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 11, no 3, e0151819Article in journal (Refereed) PublishedText
Abstract [en]

Aims To assess the cognitive and behavioral aspects of executive functioning (EF) and learning skills in extremely preterm (EPT) children compared with term control children aged 10 to 15 years. Methods A total of 132 of 134 (98% of all eligible survivors) EPT children born at the 2 Swedish regional tertiary care centers from 1992 to 1998 (mean age = 12 years, mean birth weight = 718 g, and mean gestational age = 24.4 weeks) and 103 matched term controls were assessed. General intelligence was assessed using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-III-R), and cognitive aspects of EF were analyzed using EF-sensitive sub-scales of the WISC-III-R and Tower test of the Delis-Kaplan Executive Function Scale (D-KEFS). Behaviors related to EF and learning skills were assessed using the Five to Fifteen questionnaire, which is a validated parent and teacher instrument. Academic performance in school was assessed by teachers' responses on Achenbach's Teachers Report Form. Analyses performed included multivariate analyses of covariance (ANCOVA and MANCOVA) and logistic regression analyses. Results The EPT children displayed significant deficits in cognitive aspects of EF compared with the controls, exhibiting decreases on the order of 0.9 SD to 1.2 SD for tasks of verbal conceptual reasoning, verbal and non-verbal working memory, processing speed and planning ability (P < 0.001 for all). After excluding the children with major neurosensory impairment (NSI) or a Full Scale intelligence quotient (FSIQ) of < 70, significant differences were observed on all tests. Compared with controls, parents and teachers of EPT children reported significantly more EF-related behavioral problems. MANCOVA of teacher-reported learning skills in children with FSIQ > 70 and without major NSI revealed no interactions, but significant main effects were observed for the behavioral composite executive function score, group status (EPT vs control) and FSIQ, for which all effect sizes were medium to large. The corresponding findings of MANCOVA of the parent-reported learning skills were very similar. According to the teachers' ratings, the EPT children were less well adjusted to the school environment. Conclusion EPT children born in the 1990s who received active perinatal care are at an increased risk of executive dysfunction, even after excluding children with significant neurodevelopmental disabilities. Even mild to moderate executive dysfunctions has a significant impact on learning skills. These findings suggest the need for timely interventions that address specific cognitive vulnerabilities and executive dysfunctions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 11, no 3, e0151819
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URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-119281DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151819ISI: 000372694700068PubMedID: 26999522OAI: diva2:932848
Available from: 2016-06-02 Created: 2016-04-15 Last updated: 2016-06-02Bibliographically approved

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