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Research on Speech and Language of Premature Children

Research on speech and language outcomes in children born premature.

Summaries By Allison Martin

Speech and language skills in children who required neonatal intensive care: evaluation at 6.5 y of age based on interviews with parents. Jennische M; Sedin G Acta Paediatr 1999 Sep;88(9):975-82 (Department of Women's and Children's Health, Uppsala University Children's Hospital, Sweden.)

Interviews with parents of preterm and full-term NIC 6.5 year old children indicated that NIC children were were older than control children when they reached certain stages in language development (short sentences, intelligible speech). Absence of babbling was more common in NIC children born at 23-27 wk and occurrence of stuttering was more commonly noticed in preterm NIC children born at 23-27 wk.

Short-term Memory and Language Outcomes After Extreme Prematurity at Birth.Briscoe, Gathercole and Marlow. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research. 1998:41:654-66. (University of Bristol, England)

The authors concluded that, "The findings indicate that preterm birth and associated hazards may constitute a significant risk factor for specific language impairment in a sizable minority of children." Preterm children had lower scores for vocabulary, expressive language, phonological short-term memory, and general nonverbal ability. These lower scores were primarily based on results from 1/3 of the 26 preterm children who were identified as being "at risk" for persisting language difficulties.

Speech and Language Development of Children Born at < or = 32 Weeks' Gestation: A 5-year Prospective Follow-up Study. Luoma L; Herrgard E; Martikainen A; Ahonen T. Dev Med Child Neurol 1998 Jun; 40(6):380-7. (Department of Paediatrics, Kuopio University Hospital, Finland)

Speech and language comprehension and production of 55 preterm children, 5 years old, were compared to children born full term of the same age. Mean performance for preterm children was significantly lower on most of the measures including the composite IQ scores. However, when nine children with major neurological disabilities were excluded statistically significant differences were found on only 4out of 12 of the speech and language measures. Preterm children were slower on rapid word retrieval and also had difficulties in comprehending relative concepts. This was believed to suggest 'subtle dysnomia' indicative of later reading problems.

Preterm children did not exhibit problems with global verbal measures or basic speech and language aspects. In fact, specific language impairment (defined as a discrepancy of > 1SD between Performance IQ and Verbal IQ scores) was more common in the control group. Boys were found to have a greater discrepancy between their Performance and Verbal IQ scores.

Speech perception and speech comprehension investigations of pre-term newborns and high-risk neonates of pre-school age. Beke A; G´osy M. Child Care Health Dev, 23(6):457-74 1997 Nov (First Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Semmelweis University Medical School, Budapest, Hungary)

52 children who had been in the NICU with respiratory disorders as newborns, either pre-term and or full-term newborns with asphyxia, were studied at preschool age. Newborns with hearing loss and mental retardation were excluded from this study. Complications of delivery, birthweight, hypoxia, persistent ductus arteriosus, duration of ventilation and complications of respiratory treatment were correlated with perception and comprehension issues. The intelligence level of pre-school children is found to be closely correlated to speech perception and comprehension.

Updated 7/2001

See Also: Speech Books || Speech Articles


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