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J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2016 Feb;57(2):132-40. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12456. Epub 2015 Aug 19.

Attention problems in very preterm children from childhood to adulthood: the Bavarian Longitudinal Study.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK.
2
Department of Developmental Psychology, Ruhr-University Bochum, Bochum, Germany.
3
Department of Neonatology, University Hospital Bonn, Bonn, Germany.
4
Division of Mental Health and Wellbeing, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK.

Erratum in

  • Erratum. [J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2016]

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Very preterm (VP; gestational age <32 weeks) and very low birth weight (VLBW; <1500 grams) is related to attention problems in childhood and adulthood. The stability of these problems into adulthood is not known.

METHODS:

The Bavarian Longitudinal Study is a prospective cohort study that followed 260 VP/VLBW and 229 term-born individuals from birth to adulthood. Data on attention were collected at 6, 8, and 26 years of age, using parent reports, expert behavior observations, and clinical ADHD diagnoses.

RESULTS:

At each assessment, VP/VLBW individuals had significantly more attention problems, shorter attention span, and were more frequently diagnosed with ADHD than term-born comparisons. In both VP/VLBW and term-born individuals, overall, attention span increased and attention problems decreased from childhood to adulthood. Attention problems and attention span were more stable over time for VP/VLBW than term-born individuals. Similarly, ADHD diagnoses showed moderate stability from childhood to adulthood in VP/VLBW, but not in term-born individuals. However, when those with severe disabilities were excluded, differences between VP/VLBW and term-born individuals reduced.

CONCLUSIONS:

Despite improvement in attention regulation from childhood to adulthood, children born very preterm remained at increased risk for attention problems in adulthood. In contrast, term-born children with clinical attention problems outgrew these by adulthood. As inattentive behavior of VP/VLBW children may be overlooked by teachers, it may be necessary to raise awareness for school intervention programs that reduce attention problems in VP/VLBW children.

KEYWORDS:

ADHD; attention; longitudinal studies; low birth weight; prematurity

PMID:
26287264
DOI:
10.1111/jcpp.12456
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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