Developmental trajectory of language from 2 to 13 years in children born very preterm

Thi-Nhu-Ngoc Nguyen, Megan Spencer-Smith, Diana Zannino, Alice Burnett, Shannon E. Scratch, Leona Pascoe, Rachel Ellis, Jeanie Cheong, Deanne Thompson, Terrie Inder, Lex W. Doyle, Peter J. Anderson

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11 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study was to describe language functioning at 13 years of age and examine its developmental trajectory from 2 to 13 years of age in children born very preterm (VP) compared with term controls. METHODS: Two hundred and twenty-four children born VP (<30 weeks' gestation) and 77 term controls had language skills assessed by using performance-based and/or parentreport measures at 2, 5, 7, and 13 years of age. Regression models were used to compare verbal memory, grammar, semantics, and pragmatic skills between the VP and term groups at 13 years of age. Linear mixed effects regression models were used to assess language trajectories from 2 to 13 years of age. RESULTS: Compared with term controls, children born VP had poorer functioning across all components of language (mean group differences ranged from -0.5 SD to -1 SD; all P < .05) at 13 years of age. At each follow-up age, the VP group displayed poorer language functioning than the term controls, with the groups exhibiting similar developmental trajectories (slope difference = -0.01 SD per year; P = .55). CONCLUSIONS: Children born VP continue to display language difficulties compared with term controls at 13 years of age, with no evidence of developmental "catch-up." Given the functional implications associated with language deficits, early language-based interventions should be considered for children born VP.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere20172831
Number of pages8
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018

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