Very-Low-Birthweight Children and Speech and Language Development Very low birthweight (VLBW) is often considered to be a risk factor for speech and language disorders, yet data are equivocal. The present study compared speech and language comprehension and production between 249 very-low-birthweight (VLBW <1.5 kg) and 363 normalbirthweight 8-year-olds, randomly sampled in a geographic area. Mean performance for ... Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 1991
Very-Low-Birthweight Children and Speech and Language Development
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Dorothy M. Aram
    Department of Pediatrics Case Western Reserve University Rainbow Babies and Childrens Hospital Cleveland, OH
  • Maureen Hack
    Department of Pediatrics Case Western Reserve University Rainbow Babies and Childrens Hospital Cleveland, OH
  • Suzanne Hawkins
    Department of Pediatrics Case Western Reserve University Rainbow Babies and Childrens Hospital Cleveland, OH
  • Barbara M. Weissman
    Department of Pediatrics Emory University, Atlanta, GA
  • Elaine Borawski-Clark
    Department of Pediatrics Case Western Reserve University Rainbow Babies and Childrens Hospital Cleveland, OH
  • Requests for reprints should be sent to Dorothy M. Aram, PhD, Department of Pediatrics, Case Western Reserve University, Rainbow Babies and Childrens Hospital, 2101 Adelbert Road, Cleveland, OH 44106.
Article Information
Development / Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Hearing Disorders / School-Based Settings / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 1991
Very-Low-Birthweight Children and Speech and Language Development
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 1991, Vol. 34, 1169-1179. doi:10.1044/jshr.3405.1169
History: Received August 13, 1990 , Accepted January 9, 1991
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 1991, Vol. 34, 1169-1179. doi:10.1044/jshr.3405.1169
History: Received August 13, 1990; Accepted January 9, 1991

Very low birthweight (VLBW) is often considered to be a risk factor for speech and language disorders, yet data are equivocal. The present study compared speech and language comprehension and production between 249 very-low-birthweight (VLBW <1.5 kg) and 363 normalbirthweight 8-year-olds, randomly sampled in a geographic area. Mean performance for the entire group of VLBW children and for the group when 24 VLBW children with major neurologic abnormalities were excluded, was significantly lower than for controls on the majority of speech and language measures. Further analyses addressed the clinical significance of these statistically significant differences. Test scores were converted to standard scores and grouped according to standard deviation intervals, thus portraying each child’s performance in terms of the magnitude of discrepancy from each test’s mean. When the, ′4 children with major neurological abnormalities were excluded, no significant differences between the VLBW and control children were observed. Using discrepancy between WISC-R performance IQ and language to define specific language impairment (SLI), a higher percentage of control than VLBW children were identified as having SLI. Neonatal risk factors did not differentiate between VLBW children with or without SLI. A higher proportion of VLBW than control children did present subnormal language associated with IQ <85, hearing deficits, and/or major neurological impairments. Thus, SLI is not more common among VLBW than control children. Language deficits accompanied by more general developmental problems, however, are more frequent.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by NIH Grant R01 HD20057, the Grant Foundation (1985–1990), and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (1975–1978).
We appreciate the support of Blanche Caron, Margot Bongiovani, Patricia Webb, and Sharon Cohen in this work.
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