Premature Birth and Cognitive Functioning in Adolescence
Ofra Lubetzky, Avi Weitzman, Izhak Gilat, Samuel Tyano
Levinsky College of Education and Geha Hospital, Tel Aviv and Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University
Premature infants are considered a high-risk population for developing cognitive dysfunction. Studies have indicated lower cognitive performance among elementary school children born prematurely. We focused on cognitive functioning of such adolescents. This age was chosen because of its critical importance in the development of the individual.
50 adolescents aged 14-16 years born prematurely were compared with 50 born at full-term and matched for gender, age and socioeconomic status. All subjects attended regular schools and did not suffer severe neurological disorders. Cognitive functioning was measured by the Bender-Visual Motor Gestalt Test and by 3 subtests from the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (revised WISC-R test).
Results revealed that prematurely born adolescents scored lower than those born at term on all measures of cognitive performance. The results are discussed in terms of their developmental meaning and of therapy for the prematurely born.