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Intelligence. 2011 Jul;39(4):198-209.

Basic Information Processing Abilities at 11 years Account for Deficits in IQ Associated with Preterm Birth.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Kennedy Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Children's Hospital at Montefiore, United States.


Although it is well established that preterms as a group do poorly relative to their full-term peers on tests of global cognitive functioning, the basis for this relative deficiency is less understood. The present paper examines preterm deficits in core cognitive abilities and determines their role in mediating preterm/full-term differences in IQ. The performance of 11-year-old children born preterm (birth weight <1750g) and their full-term controls were compared on a large battery of 15 tasks, covering four basic cognitive domains -- memory, attention, speed of processing and representational competence. The validity of these four domains was established using latent variables and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). Preterms showed pervasive deficits within and across domains. Additionally, preterm deficits in IQ were completely mediated by these four cognitive domains in a structural equation model involving a cascade from elementary abilities (attention and speed), to more complex abilities (memory and representational competence), to IQ. The similarity of findings to those obtained with this cohort in infancy and toddlerhood suggest that preterm deficits persist - across time, across task, and from the non-verbal to the verbal period.

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