Predictors for delayed linguistic skills in very preterm infants

Resch, M. , Bresele, S., Kager, K., Pupp Peglow, U., Griesmaier, E., Kiechl-Kohlendorfer, U.* | JNPM 2020;

BACKGROUND: Preterm-born children are at higher risk for impaired linguistic abilities than are their term-born peers. The aim of the current study was to determine early predictors for delayed linguistic skills in very preterm-born preschool children.
METHODS: Between January 2005 and November 2010 all very preterm infants born at < 32 weeks gestation in Tyrol were prospectively enrolled (n = 421); 248 of them had a detailed examination at the age of five years including cognitive assessment (Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence, third edition (WPPSI-III) or Snijders-Oomen Nonverbal Intelligence Tests (SON-R)) as well as a screening test for language skills (Bielefelder screening for early diagnosis of reading problems and weak spelling (BISC)). The association between pre-and postnatal factors and poor performance on the BISC assessment was analyzed by means of logistic regression analysis.
RESULTS: Of the 248 children 79 (31.8%) showed delayed literacy precursor skills. Male sex, gestational age, retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) grades 3–4 and low maternal education were predictive for delayed linguistic skills at 5 years of age in the multivariate analysis.
CONCLUSION: This study identified predictors for delayed literacy precursor skills. These data support the finding that in very preterm infants pre-and perinatal as well as sociodemographic factors account for linguistic skills in the preschool period.

*Corresponding Author: 

 Ursula Kiechl-Kohlendorfer, MD, MSc, Innsbruck Medical University, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, Anichstrasse 35, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria. Tel.: 0043 512 504 27307; Fax: 0043 512 27308; E-mail: