OBJECTIVE: The Stockholm Neonatal Project is a prospective longitudinal study of children born prematurely in 1988-93, with very low birth weight (<1500 g, VLBW). Currently, all children with VLBW (n=182) and matched controls born at term (n=125), who participated in the previous follow-up at age 5 1/2 years, are invited to a psychological assessment at age 18.
PARTICIPANTS AND METHODS: The assessment involves neuropsychological tests as well as self-report measures of health and adjustment, interpersonal relations, school performance, interests and quality of life. As a complement, parents are asked to complete a rating scale of their child’s health, adjustment and educational record, as well as self-report measures of their own well-being and possible parental stress.
RESULTS: Half-way through the data collection, preliminary neuropsychological results suggest that at age 18, the preterm group tends to score >1 SD below the controls on tests of visuo-spatial ability, executive functions, and speed, whereas no systematic group differences have been observed in the verbal domain. According to self-reports from SDQ and YSR/CBCL, the preterm group has a higher incidence of peer problems and lower self-rated competence than controls, a picture that is supported by the parental reports. Qualitative data indicate that the preterm group may be less socially active and more home-bound. When controlling for overall cognitive functioning, most group differences in socio-emotional adjustment disappear, although parents of prematurely born adolescents still tend to report more concerns.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that socio-emotional adjustment may be closely linked to long-term neuropsychological outcome in adolescents with a history of premature birth.
2009. 75-75 p.
Supported by FAS/Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (2006-0936) and Vårdal Foundation (2007-B100).