Four factors predict neurodevelopmental outcomes for children with low birth weight

January 27, 2016, New York University

Four factors - medical complications at birth, maternal education, early motor assessments, and early cognitive assessments - help predict later cognitive function and motor performance for children born early and at a very low birth weight, finds a new study by NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

Research has shown that children born prematurely are at an increased risk for neurodevelopmental impairments. The prevalence of severe disabilities among preterm children is diminishing thanks to advances in medical care, but mild impairments remain and tend to persist into later childhood, posing challenges for children in their everyday home and school lives.

Studies suggest that 40 to 70 percent of preterm children have minor neurodevelopmental impairments, including cognitive delays, speech and language disorders, and mild motor problems such as issues with coordination and balance. They also may have lower , or the integrated ability of cognitive skills, motor skills, and social and emotional regulation people learn in order to function day-to-day.

"A better understanding of risk factors for impairments among preterm children can help health care providers develop a prevention plan when a child is still young, and identify those who might benefit from early intervention," said study author Tsu-Hsin Howe, associate professor of occupational therapy at NYU Steinhardt.

In their study, published in the January issue of Research in Developmental Disabilities, Howe and her colleagues examined predictors of neurodevelopmental outcomes in very children at five years of age, and looked at the contribution of early cognitive and motor assessments to preterm children's later developmental outcomes.

The study participants included 126 children in Taiwan who were born prematurely (at or before 32 weeks) with very low birth weight (less than or equal to 1500 grams, or approximately 3.3 pounds), and were five years old at the time of the study. The children had no severe disabilities or major medical issues.

The five-year-olds were evaluated using neurodevelopmental assessments to determine their overall cognitive function and motor performance. Additional information was collected from their parents, including demographic data and a survey of the children's adaptive behaviors.

The researchers then examined whether certain indicators—prenatal factors, social factors, or results of early neurodevelopmental assessments—would assist in predicting the children's later developmental outcomes.

They found that more than 50 percent of intelligence and 30 percent of both and adaptive behavior can be explained by four factors: preterm children's at birth, , early motor assessments, and early cognitive assessments.

"Consistent with previous studies, we found significant associations between children's early developmental assessments and later outcomes, emphasizing the benefit of conducting detailed assessments of movement at one year of age," Howe said. "However, medical complications at birth were the most reliable predictor of 's overall developmental outcomes."

The researchers noted that 57 percent of participants had difficulty in overall adaptive behavior at five years of age, suggesting that very low tend to have lower adaptive behavior.

Explore further: Empathy and attention come into focus for preterm kids

More information: Tsu-Hsin Howe et al. Predicting neurodevelopmental outcomes at preschool age for children with very low birth weight, Research in Developmental Disabilities (2016). DOI: 10.1016/j.ridd.2015.11.003

Related Stories

Empathy and attention come into focus for preterm kids

January 20, 2016
Local research has confirmed children born extremely prematurely or 'preterm' have a less developed sense of empathy and poorer attention skills than typically developing children but the work has failed to determine if there ...

More evidence preterm birth could raise autism risk

January 21, 2016
(HealthDay)—According to a new study, very premature infants may have an increased risk of being diagnosed with autism by age 4, although the research questions just how high the odds are.

Challenges for extreme preemies can last into teens

November 9, 2015
(HealthDay)—The complications and medical treatments that extremely preterm or extremely small newborns experience in their first weeks of life can have an impact years later, a new study reveals.

Study examines neurodevelopmental outcomes for children born extremely preterm

April 30, 2013
Fredrik Serenius, M.D., Ph.D., of Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden, and colleagues conducted a study to assess neurological and developmental outcome in extremely preterm (less than 27 gestational weeks) children at 2.5 ...

Adult IQ of very premature babies can be predicted by the age of two

August 12, 2015
Research from the University of Warwick indicates that the IQ of adults born very premature or of very low birth weight can be predicted when they are just a toddler.

Predicting the risk of cognitive impairment in children born prematurely via MRI

September 2, 2015
School age children who are born prematurely are more likely to have low mathematical achievement, thought to be associated with reduced working memory and number skills, according to a new study published today in the neurology ...

Recommended for you

The effects of happiness and sadness on children's snack consumption

February 19, 2018
A University of Texas at Dallas psychologist has examined the preconceptions about the effects of emotions on children's eating habits, creating the framework for future studies of how dietary patterns evolve in early childhood.

Cycle of infant reflux signals a call to help mothers

February 14, 2018
Western Sydney University research has found that first-time mothers with mental health issues – in particular, maternal anxiety – are five times as likely to have their baby noted as having reflux when admitted to hospital.

Safe-sleep recommendations for infants have not reduced sudden deaths in newborns

February 14, 2018
An analysis of trends in sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) over the past two decades finds that the drop in such deaths that took place following release of the 1992 American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) "back to sleep" ...

Most children with sickle cell anemia not receiving key medication to stay healthy

February 13, 2018
One of the greatest health threats to children with sickle cell anemia is getting a dangerous bacterial infection—but most are not receiving a key medication to reduce the risk, a new study suggests.

Premature babies' low blood pressure puzzle explained

February 13, 2018
Scientists have discovered crucial new information about how a foetus develops which could explain why very premature babies suffer low blood pressure and other health problems.

Babies face higher SIDS risk in certain states

February 12, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) claims the lives of some 3,500 babies in the United States each year, but its toll is far heavier in some states than others, health officials report.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.