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Eur J Pediatr. 2012 Jan;171(1):43-50. doi: 10.1007/s00431-011-1476-8. Epub 2011 May 7.

Drawings of very preterm-born children at 5 years of age: a first impression of cognitive and motor development?

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  • 1Department of Pedagogical and Educational Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.



The aim of this study was to examine differences in drawing skills between very preterm and term children, and to determine whether very preterm children's cognitive and motor development is reflected in the draw-a-person test (DAP) at age 5. Seventy-two very preterm children (birth weight <1,500 g and/or gestational age <32 weeks) and 60 term children at 5 years of age were compared on the DAP. Cognitive and motor skills of the very preterm children had been assessed four times, at 1/2, 1, 2, and 5 years of age. Very preterm children showed a developmental delay in drawing ability. Structural equation modeling revealed a positive relation between both cognitive as well as motor development and the DAP.


The DAP could be a crude parameter for evaluating cognitive and motor deficits of very preterm children. A worrisome result should be followed by more standardized tests measuring cognitive and motor skills.

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