OBJECTIVE: Follow-up studies of preterm children have reported a range of cognitive deficits, particularly in visuo-spatial abilities, executive functions and learning. However, few researchers have adopted a person-oriented approach, exploring individual neuropsychological profiles. The aim of this study was to identify typical neuropsychological profiles among preterm children and control children, respectively. A second aim was to investigate if neuropsychological profile at age 5 1/2 might be related to perinatal medical risk factors, as well as later cognitive outcome.
PARTICIPANTS AND METHODS: As part of the longitudinal Stockholm Neonatal Project, NEPSY for 4-7 year old children (Korkman 1990) was administered to 175 preterm and 125 control children at age 5 1/2 years. For the present study, the NEPSY-results of each child were transformed into summary z-scores for each of the five neuropsychological domains. Subsequently, Ward’s cluster analysis was performed for the preterm and control groups separately.
RESULTS: Five neuropsychological profiles were identified in both groups, explaining around 60% of the variance among preterms and controls respectively. Overall, preterm children had lower results in all neuropsychological domains, but also more diverging profiles compared to controls. Subgroups with more diverging profiles tended to have experienced more medical risks, but this was not statistically significant and appeared to reflect cumulative risk more than specific mechanisms.
CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that prematurity in itself, in interaction with genetic and environmental factors, may affect preterm children’s neuropsychological development. In addition to these findings, preliminary results on the relation between early neuropsychological profiles and cognitive outcome at age 18 (WISC-III) will be presented.
2009. 104-104 p.
Supported by FAS/Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (2006-0936) and Vårdal Foundation (2007-B100).