Published in

American Academy of Pediatrics, Pediatrics, 3(136), p. 415-423, 2015

DOI: 10.1542/peds.2015-0608



Export citation

Search in Google Scholar

Preterm Cognitive Function Into Adulthood

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

Full text: Download

Red circle
Preprint: archiving forbidden
Orange circle
Postprint: archiving restricted
Red circle
Published version: archiving forbidden
Data provided by SHERPA/RoMEO


BACKGROUND: Very preterm (VP; gestational age <32 weeks) and very low birth weight (VLBW; <1500 g) births are related to impaired cognitive function across the life span. It is not known how stable cognitive functions are from childhood to adulthood for VP/VLBW compared with term-born individuals and how early adult cognitive function can be predicted. METHODS: The Bavarian Longitudinal Study is a prospective geographically defined cohort study that followed 260 VP/VLBW and 229 term-born individuals from birth to adulthood. Data on cognitive function were assessed with developmental and IQ tests at 5 and 20 months and at 4, 6, 8, and 26 years of age. RESULTS: Across all assessments, VP/VLBW individuals had significantly lower IQ scores than term-born controls, even when individuals with severe cognitive impairment (n = 69) were excluded. IQ scores were found to be more stable over time for VP/VLBW than term-born individuals, yet differences in stability disappeared when individuals with cognitive impairment were excluded. Adult IQ could be predicted with fair certainty (r > 0.50) from age 20 months onward for the whole VP/VLBW sample (n = 260) and from 6 years onward for term-born individuals (n = 229). CONCLUSIONS: VP/VLBW individuals more often suffer from cognitive problems across childhood into adulthood and these problems are relatively stable from early childhood onward. VP/VLBW children’s risk for cognitive problems can be reliably diagnosed at the age of 20 months. These findings provide strong support for the timing of cognitive follow-up at age 2 years to plan special support services for children with cognitive problems.