Cognition and behaviour in children with congenital abdominal wall defects

Alice C. Burnett, Julia K. Gunn, Esther A. Hutchinson, Margaret M. Moran, Lisa M. Kelly, Ursula C. Sevil, Peter J. Anderson, Rod W. Hunt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Aim To characterise neurodevelopment at age two years and cognition and behaviour at age five years in children born with abdominal wall defects (gastroschisis or exomphalos). Study design Participants were treated as neonates for gastroschisis or exomphalos and invited for routine clinical follow-up at ages two and five years. Thirty-nine two year-olds and 20 five year-olds with gastroschisis and 20 two year-olds and 10 five year-olds with exomphalos returned for age-appropriate assessments of development (two years) and intellectual functioning (IQ), executive function, and behavioural problems. Results were compared with normative data from the tests and published data from local term-born children. Results For both gastroschisis and exomphalos two year-olds, neurodevelopment was in line with the test normative data, but below the level of local normative data for all domains (effect sizes from −0.4 to −1.4 standard deviations). At five years, children with gastroschisis performed similarly to the normative mean for IQ but had high rates of various executive functioning problems on parent report (18–41% compared with 7% expected from norms). There was also a tendency for increased frequency of internalising problems (33% compared with normative expectation of 16%). Five year-olds with exomphalos also performed similarly to the normative mean for IQ and had low rates of executive and behavioural problems. Conclusions Survivors of gastroschisis and exomphalos may be at risk of poor neurodevelopment in toddlerhood, depending on the reference group, and children with gastroschisis may be particularly at risk for executive functioning difficulties despite an IQ within normal limits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-52
Number of pages6
JournalEarly Human Development
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognition
  • Exomphalos
  • Gastroschisis
  • Neonatal surgery
  • Neurodevelopment

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