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Stability of development and behavior of preterm children

PhD ceremony:Ms J. (Jorijn) Hornman
When:March 12, 2018
Supervisors:prof. dr. S.A. (Menno) Reijneveld, prof. dr. A.F. (Arend) Bos
Co-supervisor:dr. A.F. (Andrea) de Winter
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Medical Sciences / UMCG

Stability of development and behavior of preterm children

Preterm birth increases the risk of problems with development and behavior in childhood. It is, however, unclear for which children these problems resolve, emerge or remain. Jorijn Hornman determined in her doctoral research if and which problems with development and behavior changed among preterm children after starting primary school and in adolescence.

Her thesis demonstrates that preterm children more frequently than fullterm children have problems with development and behavior which emerge, remain and resolve when they enter primary school. In addition, there are differences by degree of prematurity; early preterm children (born after <32 weeks gestational age) more often have general problems which are persistent or emerging, and moderately-and-late preterm children (born 32-35 weeks gestational age) mainly have problems on specific domains and problems are more often resolving. Finally, the risk of emerging or remaining problems was more increased for children with a less optimal social context than for children with problems around birth. In adolescence, moderately-and-late preterm children have an executive functioning (cognitive ability to organize behavior) that is rather comparable to that of fullterm children.

It is important to evaluate these findings in their context, as 80% of all preterm children are consistently without problems, and about half of the problems they had before school entry resolves in the first year at primary school. Since relatively many problems remain or emerge when preterm children enter primary school, all these children should be followed at school. Yet this only happens for the early preterm children.