Aims To compare very low birth weight (VLBW) children’s performance on attention measurements at preschool age to term-born peers, and to assess associated risk factors.
Methods Attention was assessed in 151 VLBW preschoolers and 41 term-born peers at 44 months of corrected age, using the Visual Attention task of the Developmental Neuropsychological Assessment, and the Gift Delay task. Parents completed the Attention Problems domain of the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL-AP), the Inhibit domain of the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (preschool version), and the Inattention/Distractibility scale of the Sensory Profile. The investigator completed the Attention domain of the Miller Assessment for Preschoolers’ Behavior During Testing (BDT-AD). Potential perinatal and socio-demographic risk factors for attention problems were analyzed using logistic regression analysis.
Results Compared with term-born peers, VLBW children scored worse on five out of six attention measurements and had significantly more abnormal scores on the CBCL-AP and BDT-AD. Analyses of BDT-AD indicate that VLBW children mostly scored abnormally on the items regarding attention maintenance. VLBW children were at higher risk for attention problems according to a composite score of significant attention problems (OR 4.6, 95% CI: 1.7–12.4). Risk factors for attention problems were having a mother born abroad (OR 3.5, CI: 1.7–7.2) and bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) (OR 2.5, CI: 1.0–6.0).
Conclusions At the time of school entry, VLBW children have more difficulty maintaining attention than their term-born peers. Both social and biological risk factors were predictive of attention problems. Using the CBCL-AP and BDT-AD may lead to timely intervention.