Cognitive profiles of medical morbidities associated with premature birth: a study of children with a history of BPD, IVH, and/or PDA
Infants who are born prior to 37 weeks gestation are considered premature and are at high risk for medical and neuropsychological complications. Specifically, preterm infants are at risk for medical complications such as Intraventricular Hemorrhage, Patent Ductus Arteriosus, and Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia. While medical complications are often associated with cognitive difficulty, few studies have examined whether specific medical complications are related to specific cognitive difficulties. The purpose of the current study was to determine whether these medical complications differentially impact long-term cognitive outcomes of preterm infants. The current study assessed 55 preterm children born weighing less than 1500g at 9-12 years of age using a neuropsychological battery assessing intellectual, language, motor, attention, memory and executive function skills. The results of the current study indicated that each medical complication was associated with a different pattern of cognitive outcomes. Specifically, IVH was associated with impairments in Verbal IQ, executive function, and memory. However, these difficulties were no longer significant after controlling for SES and birthweight. BPD was associated with decreased gross motor and language skills, even after controlling for SES and birthweight. PDA was associated with improved outcomes in the areas of Performance IQ, executive function, language, memory, and fine motor skills. It is hypothesized that the medication often used to treat PDA (i.e., indomethacin) may be preventative with regards to long-term neuropsychological sequelae. Taken together, this study confirms that long-term outcomes associated with prematurity may be differentially predicted by the specific medical complications that occur following birth.