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16-08-2019 | Uitgave 1/2020

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 1/2020

Cumulative Antenatal Risk and Kindergarten Readiness in Preterm-Born Preschoolers

Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology > Uitgave 1/2020
Andrew M. Heitzer, Jamie C. Piercy, Brittany N. Peters, Allyssa M. Mattes, Judith M. Klarr, Beau Batton, Noa Ofen, Sarah Raz
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10802-019-00577-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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A suboptimal intrauterine environment is thought to increase the probability of deviation from the typical neurodevelopmental trajectory, potentially contributing to the etiology of learning disorders. Yet the cumulative influence of individual antenatal risk factors on emergent learning skills has not been sufficiently examined. We sought to determine whether antenatal complications, in aggregate, are a source of variability in preschoolers’ kindergarten readiness, and whether specific classes of antenatal risk play a prominent role. We recruited 160 preschoolers (85 girls; ages 3–4 years), born ≤336/7 weeks’ gestation, and reviewed their hospitalization records. Kindergarten readiness skills were assessed with standardized intellectual, oral-language, prewriting, and prenumeracy tasks. Cumulative antenatal risk was operationalized as the sum of complications identified out of nine common risks. These were also grouped into four classes in follow-up analyses: complications associated with intra-amniotic infection, placental insufficiency, endocrine dysfunction, and uteroplacental bleeding. Linear mixed model analyses, adjusting for sociodemographic and medical background characteristics (socioeconomic status, sex, gestational age, and sum of perinatal complications) revealed an inverse relationship between the sum of antenatal complications and performance in three domains: intelligence, language, and prenumeracy (p = 0.003, 0.002, 0.005, respectively). Each of the four classes of antenatal risk accounted for little variance, yet together they explained 10.5%, 9.8%, and 8.4% of the variance in the cognitive, literacy, and numeracy readiness domains, respectively. We conclude that an increase in the co-occurrence of antenatal complications is moderately linked to poorer kindergarten readiness skills even after statistical adjustment for perinatal risk.

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