Episodic and prospective memory difficulties in 13-year-old children born very preterm

Paulina M. Stedall, Megan M. Spencer-Smith, Suncica Lah, Lex W. Doyle, Alicia J. Spittle, Alice C. Burnett, Peter J. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Children born very preterm (VP) are susceptible to a range of cognitive impairments, yet the effects of VP birth on long-term, episodic, and prospective memory remains unclear. This study examined episodic and prospective memory functioning in children born VP compared with their term-born counterparts at 13 years. Method: VP (n = 81: born <30 weeks' gestation) and term (n = 26) groups were aged between 12 and 14 years. Children completed: (i) standardized verbal and visuospatial episodic memory tests; and (ii) an experimental time- and event-based prospective memory test that included short-term (within assessment session) and long-term (up to 1-week post-session) tasks. Parents completed a questionnaire assessing memory functions in everyday life. Results: The VP group performed worse on all measures of verbal and visuospatial episodic memory than the term group. While there were no group differences in event-based or long-term prospective memory, the VP group performed worse on time-based and short-term prospective memory tasks than term-born counterparts. Parents of children born VP reported more everyday memory difficulties than parents of children born at term, with parent-ratings indicating significantly elevated rates of everyday memory challenges in children born VP. Conclusions: Children born VP warrant long-term surveillance, as challenges associated with VP birth include memory difficulties at 13 years. This study highlights the need for greater research and clinical attention into childhood functional memory outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-265
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • cognition
  • episodic memory
  • Keywords:
  • learning
  • prospective memory
  • very low birth weight
  • very preterm

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