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Executive functioning in adolescents born preterm and at term

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posted on 2023-05-27, 09:18 authored by McBain, KL
Executive functioning (EF) refers to a set of higher-order cognitive skills including inhibition, switching, and working memory. Previous studies have indicated that young children born preterm perform more poorly on EF tasks than those born at term, but little is known about whether these EF deficits persist into adolescence. This study aimed to identity if EF deficits were present in adolescents born preterm compared to those born at term, and to identify some potential risk factors for poorer EF performance in preterm adolescents. A total of 37 participants aged 10-17 years participated in the study, with 18 born preterm (<37 weeks' completed gestation) and 19 born at term (>38 weeks' gestation). Participants completed subtests of the Weschler Intelligence Scales, the Trail Making Test, and the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test. No significant differences were found between adolescents born preterm or at term on any intelligence or EF measures. Neither EF nor intelligence test performance could be predicted by gestational age, sex, or social risk in the preterm group. These preliminary findings indicate that adolescents born preterm and at term perform at similar levels on EF and intelligence tasks, and suggest that no interventions are needed to target EF by this age.

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