Impact of Prematurity on Language Skills at School Age Purpose The existing literature on language outcomes in children born prematurely focuses almost exclusively on standardized test scores rather than discourse-level abilities. The authors of this study looked longitudinally at school-age language outcomes and potential moderating variables for a group of twins born prematurely versus a control group of twins ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2014
Impact of Prematurity on Language Skills at School Age
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jamie Mahurin Smith
    Illinois State University, Normal
  • Laura Segebart DeThorne
    University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
  • Jessica A. R. Logan
    Ohio State University, Columbus
  • Ron W. Channell
    Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
  • Stephen A. Petrill
    Ohio State University, Columbus
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Jamie Mahurin Smith: jms2cor4@gmail.com
  • Editor: Janna Oetting
    Editor: Janna Oetting×
  • Associate Editor: Rebecca McCauley
    Associate Editor: Rebecca McCauley×
Article Information
Development / School-Based Settings / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2014
Impact of Prematurity on Language Skills at School Age
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2014, Vol. 57, 901-916. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2013/12-0347)
History: Received November 2, 2012 , Revised May 10, 2013 , Accepted August 21, 2013
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2014, Vol. 57, 901-916. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2013/12-0347)
History: Received November 2, 2012; Revised May 10, 2013; Accepted August 21, 2013
Web of Science® Times Cited: 3

Purpose The existing literature on language outcomes in children born prematurely focuses almost exclusively on standardized test scores rather than discourse-level abilities. The authors of this study looked longitudinally at school-age language outcomes and potential moderating variables for a group of twins born prematurely versus a control group of twins born at full term, analyzing both standardized test results and language sample data from the population-based Western Reserve Reading Project (WRRP; Petrill, Deater-Deckard, Thompson, DeThorne, & Schatschneider, 2006).

Method Fifty-seven children born prematurely, at ≤32 weeks or <1,500 g, were compared with 57 children born at full term and were matched for age, gender, race, and parental education. Data included discourse-level language samples and standardized test results, collected at average ages 7, 8, and 10 years. The language samples were analyzed to yield a number of semantic and syntactic measures that were consolidated via factor analysis.

Results Regression models showed significant differences between the 2 groups for standardized test results, although the mean score for both groups fell in the normal range. For the discourse-level language measures, however, differences never reached statistical significance. Parental education was significantly associated with improved standardized test scores.

Conclusions These findings suggest that in the absence of frank neurological impairment, sophisticated semantic and syntactic skills may be relatively intact in the discourse-level language of children born prematurely. Implications for assessment, particularly the potential role of attention and executive function in standardized testing tasks, are reviewed.

Acknowledgments
This project was funded by Project FOCAL: Focusing on Causality and Assessment to Train Leaders in Children's Communication Disabilities (C. J. Johnson, principal investigator), U.S. Department of Education H325D07006, and by Environmental Influences on Early Reading: A Twin Study (Stephen A. Petrill, principal investigator), National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders R01 HD038075. We appreciate the assistance of Lisa Mellman and Meredith Kresse.
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