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Is association of preterm birth with cognitive-neurophysiological impairments and ADHD symptoms consistent with a causal inference or due to familial confounds?


James, Sarah-Naomi; Rommel, Anna-Sophie; Rijsdijk, Fruhling; Michelini, Giorgia; McLoughlin, Gráinne; Brandeis, Daniel; Banaschewski, Tobias; Asherson, Philip; Kuntsi, Jonna (2019). Is association of preterm birth with cognitive-neurophysiological impairments and ADHD symptoms consistent with a causal inference or due to familial confounds? Psychological Medicine:1-7.

Abstract

Preterm birth is associated with an increased risk for cognitive-neurophysiological impairments and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Whether the associations are due to the preterm birth insult per se, or due to other risk factors that characterise families with preterm-born children, is largely unknown.We employed a within-sibling comparison design, using cognitive-performance and event-related potential (ERP) measures from 104 preterm-born adolescents and 104 of their term-born siblings. Analyses focused on ADHD symptoms and cognitive and ERP measures from a cued continuous performance test, an arrow flanker task and a reaction time task. Within-sibling analyses showed that preterm birth was significantly associated with increased ADHD symptoms (β = 0.32, p = 0.01, 95% CI 0.05 to 0.58) and specific cognitive-ERP impairments, such as IQ (β = -0.20, p = 0.02, 95% CI -0.40 to -0.01), preparation-vigilance measures and measures of error processing (ranging from β = 0.71, -0.35). There was a negligible within-sibling association between preterm birth with executive control measures of inhibition (NoGo-P3, β = -0.07, p = 0.45, 95% CI -0.33 to 0.15) or verbal working memory (digit span backward, β = -0.05, p = 0.63, 95% CI -0.30 to 0.18).Our results suggest that the relationship between preterm birth with ADHD symptoms and specific cognitive-neurophysiological impairments (IQ, preparation-vigilance and error processing) is independent of family-level risk and consistent with a causal inference. In contrast, our results suggest that previously observed associations between preterm birth with executive control processes of inhibition and working memory are instead linked to background characteristics of families with a preterm-born child rather than preterm birth insult per se. These findings suggest that interventions need to target both preterm-birth specific and family-level risk factors.

Abstract

Preterm birth is associated with an increased risk for cognitive-neurophysiological impairments and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Whether the associations are due to the preterm birth insult per se, or due to other risk factors that characterise families with preterm-born children, is largely unknown.We employed a within-sibling comparison design, using cognitive-performance and event-related potential (ERP) measures from 104 preterm-born adolescents and 104 of their term-born siblings. Analyses focused on ADHD symptoms and cognitive and ERP measures from a cued continuous performance test, an arrow flanker task and a reaction time task. Within-sibling analyses showed that preterm birth was significantly associated with increased ADHD symptoms (β = 0.32, p = 0.01, 95% CI 0.05 to 0.58) and specific cognitive-ERP impairments, such as IQ (β = -0.20, p = 0.02, 95% CI -0.40 to -0.01), preparation-vigilance measures and measures of error processing (ranging from β = 0.71, -0.35). There was a negligible within-sibling association between preterm birth with executive control measures of inhibition (NoGo-P3, β = -0.07, p = 0.45, 95% CI -0.33 to 0.15) or verbal working memory (digit span backward, β = -0.05, p = 0.63, 95% CI -0.30 to 0.18).Our results suggest that the relationship between preterm birth with ADHD symptoms and specific cognitive-neurophysiological impairments (IQ, preparation-vigilance and error processing) is independent of family-level risk and consistent with a causal inference. In contrast, our results suggest that previously observed associations between preterm birth with executive control processes of inhibition and working memory are instead linked to background characteristics of families with a preterm-born child rather than preterm birth insult per se. These findings suggest that interventions need to target both preterm-birth specific and family-level risk factors.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
04 Faculty of Medicine > Neuroscience Center Zurich
04 Faculty of Medicine > Center for Integrative Human Physiology
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:3 June 2019
Deposited On:14 Aug 2019 10:31
Last Modified:25 Sep 2019 00:41
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:0033-2917
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291719001211
PubMed ID:31155011

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