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Very preterm adolescents show impaired performance with increasing demands in executive function tasks


Wehrle, Flavia M; Kaufmann, Liane; Benz, Laura D; Huber, Reto; O'Gorman, Ruth L; Latal, Beatrice; Hagmann, Cornelia F (2016). Very preterm adolescents show impaired performance with increasing demands in executive function tasks. Early Human Development, 92:37-43.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Very preterm birth is often associated with executive function deficits later in life. The transition to adolescence increases personal autonomy, independence and, in parallel, the demands placed on executive functions at home and in school.
AIM: To assess the impact of increasing demands on executive function performance in very preterm children and adolescents with normal intellectual and motor functions.
METHODS: Forty-one very preterm children and adolescents with normal intellectual and motor functions and 43 healthy term-born peers were assessed at a mean age of 13.0years (SD: 1.9; range: 10.0-16.9). A comprehensive battery of performance-based executive function measures with different demand levels as well as a parent-rating questionnaire evaluating executive functions relevant for everyday life was applied. Standardized mean differences between groups of d≥.41 were regarded as clinically relevant.
RESULTS: No group differences were found at the lowest demand levels of working memory (d=.09), planning (d=-.01), cognitive flexibility (d=-.21) and verbal fluency (d=-.14) tasks, but very preterm participants scored significantly below their term-born peers in the most demanding levels (d=-.50, -.59, -.43 and -.55, respectively). These differences were clinically relevant. Executive functions relevant for everyday life were strongly impaired in very preterm participants, e.g., global executive composite (d=-.66).
CONCLUSION: Very preterm children and adolescents with normal intellectual and motor functions are at high risk for executive function deficits that may only become apparent with increasing demands, potentially leading to academic and other deficits.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Very preterm birth is often associated with executive function deficits later in life. The transition to adolescence increases personal autonomy, independence and, in parallel, the demands placed on executive functions at home and in school.
AIM: To assess the impact of increasing demands on executive function performance in very preterm children and adolescents with normal intellectual and motor functions.
METHODS: Forty-one very preterm children and adolescents with normal intellectual and motor functions and 43 healthy term-born peers were assessed at a mean age of 13.0years (SD: 1.9; range: 10.0-16.9). A comprehensive battery of performance-based executive function measures with different demand levels as well as a parent-rating questionnaire evaluating executive functions relevant for everyday life was applied. Standardized mean differences between groups of d≥.41 were regarded as clinically relevant.
RESULTS: No group differences were found at the lowest demand levels of working memory (d=.09), planning (d=-.01), cognitive flexibility (d=-.21) and verbal fluency (d=-.14) tasks, but very preterm participants scored significantly below their term-born peers in the most demanding levels (d=-.50, -.59, -.43 and -.55, respectively). These differences were clinically relevant. Executive functions relevant for everyday life were strongly impaired in very preterm participants, e.g., global executive composite (d=-.66).
CONCLUSION: Very preterm children and adolescents with normal intellectual and motor functions are at high risk for executive function deficits that may only become apparent with increasing demands, potentially leading to academic and other deficits.

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4 citations in Web of Science®
4 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Neonatology
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Children's Hospital Zurich > Medical Clinic
04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Center for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
04 Faculty of Medicine > Center for Integrative Human Physiology
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:January 2016
Deposited On:26 Jan 2016 11:46
Last Modified:18 Jan 2017 16:03
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0378-3782
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2015.10.021
PubMed ID:26651084

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