Visuospatial and verbal fluency relative deficits in 'complicated' late-preterm preschool children

Ida Sue Baron, Kristine Erickson, Margot D. Ahronovich, Kelly Coulehan, Robin Baker, Fern R. Litman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Background: Late-preterm children constitute a majority of all preterm deliveries (75%). Their immature brain development at birth has been associated with an increased risk for morbidities. Data have been sparse regarding neuropsychological outcomes in the preschool years. Aim: To examine general cognition, attention/working memory, language, manual coordination/motor dexterity, visuomotor, visuospatial, and executive functions in preschoolers born late-preterm (LPT; 34-36 gestational weeks) who required NICU admission compared to term-born participants. Design: Single-center retrospective cohort study of 95 three-year-old children; 60 born LPT in 2004-2005 and admitted to the NICU compared to 35 healthy term-born participants born ≥ 37 gestational weeks and ≥ 2500 g. Results: LPT birth was associated with visuospatial (p = .005), visuomotor (p = .012), and executive function (noun [p = .018] and action-verb [p = .026] fluency) relative deficits, but not attention/working memory, receptive or expressive language, nonverbal reasoning, or manual coordination/dexterity deficit. Conclusions: Late-preterm birth is likely to be associated with negative neuropsychological sequelae, although subtle and selective compared to effects reported for children born at an earlier gestational age. Visuospatial function appears to be especially vulnerable to disruption even at preschool age, and verbal fluency may be useful as an early predictor of executive dysfunction in childhood. Routine preschool neuropsychological evaluation is recommended to identify delay or deficit in LPT children preparing for school entry, and may highlight underlying vulnerable neural networks in LPT children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)751-754
Number of pages4
JournalEarly Human Development
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Executive function
  • Late-preterm
  • Neuropsychological tests
  • Preschoolers
  • Verb fluency
  • Visuospatial function


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