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Behaviour and development in 24-month-old moderately preterm toddlers
  1. Marjanneke de Jong1,
  2. Marjolein Verhoeven1,
  3. Carole A Lasham2,
  4. Clemens B Meijssen3,
  5. Anneloes L van Baar1
  1. 1Department of Child and Adolescent Studies, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  2. 2Department of Pediatrics, Tergooi Hospital, Blaricum, The Netherlands
  3. 3Department of Pediatrics, Meander Medical Centre, Amersfoort, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Marjanneke de Jong, Department of Child and Adolescent Studies, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80.140, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands; M.deJong{at}


Objective Moderately preterm children (gestational age 32–36+6 weeks) are at risk of cognitive and behaviour problems at school age. The aim of this study was to investigate if these problems are already present at the age of 2 years.

Study design Developmental outcome was assessed at 24-months (corrected age) with the Bayley-III-NL in 116 moderately preterm (M=34.66±1.35 weeks gestation) and 99 term born children (M=39.45±0.98 weeks gestation). Behaviour problems were assessed with the Child Behaviour Checklist.

Results With age corrected for prematurity, moderately preterm children scored below term peers on Receptive Communication skills (11.05±2.58 vs 12.02±2.74, p=0.02). Without correcting age for prematurity, moderately preterm children scored below term born peers on Cognition (8.97±2.11 vs 10.68±2.35, p<0.001), Fine Motor (10.33±2.15 vs 11.96±2.15, p<0.001), Gross Motor (8.47±2.55 vs 9.39±2.80, p=0.05), Receptive Communication (10.09±2.48 vs 12.02±2.74, p<0.001) and Expressive Communication (10.33±2.43 vs 11.49±2.51, p=0.005) skills. Compared with term peers, more moderately preterm children showed a (mild) delay (ie, scaled score <7) in gross motor skills with age uncorrected for prematurity (20.7% vs 11.2%, p=0.04). Moderately preterm children had more internalising behaviour problems than term children (44.76±8.94 vs 41.54±8.56, p=0.03). No group differences were found in percentages of (sub)clinical scores.

Conclusions At the age of 2 years, uncorrected for prematurity, differences in cognition, communication, and motor development were present in moderately preterm children compared with term born peers. After correcting age for prematurity, a difference was only found for receptive communication skills. In addition, moderately preterm children show more internalising behaviour problems.

  • behaviour
  • development
  • moderately preterm
  • CBCL
  • Bayley-III-NL

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