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Cleft Palate Craniofac J. 1998 May;35(3):197-203.

Mental development and learning disorders in children with single suture craniosynostosis.

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The Craniofacial Center, The University of Illinois at Chicago, 60612, USA.



This study examined the global intellectual development and presence/absence of learning disorders in children with nonsyndromic metopic, sagittal, and unilateral coronal synostosis who had early surgery (under 1 year of age), late surgery (over 1 year of age), or no surgery to correct the synostosis across three time periods.


The design was longitudinal. Children were assessed at initial team evaluation, 1 year after surgery or initial evaluation if surgery was not performed, and annually thereafter.


Participants included 84 consecutively evaluated patients. Seventy-two children were evaluated at Time 1 (T1), 8 months; 57 at Time 2 (T2), 21 months; and 39 at Time 3 (T3), 50 months. Data on learning disorders or mental retardation were available on 34 children who were school age.


The Mental Development Index from the Bayley Scales of Infant Development was the main outcome measure for T1 and T2. The General Cognitive Index from the McCarthy Scales of Children's Abilities was the main outcome measure for T3. Learning disorders were determined from school and clinical records.


Repeated measures analyses of variance found no statistical differences in the development of children based on diagnosis or surgical status across time. Base rate of mental retardation at T1 was consistent with normative data; however, the incidence of retardation was two to three times the expected rate at T2 and T3. Learning disorders were present in 47% of school-age children who were not retarded. Chi-square analysis showed no significant differences between rates of retardation or learning disorders based on surgical status.


Most children with nonsyndromic craniosynostosis obtain developmental quotients within the normal range in infancy. Rates of retardation may increase relative to normative expectations as children mature. A high rate of learning disorders was identified. Results are preliminary due to sample size.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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