Language Functions in Preterm-Born Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Inge Spek, Marie-Christine Franken, Nynke Kuperus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

214 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Preterm-born children (<37 weeks' gestation) have higher rates of language function problems compared with term-born children. It is unknown whether these problems decrease, deteriorate, or remain stable over time. The goal of this research was to determine the developmental course of language functions in preterm-born children from 3 to 12 years of age. METHODS: Computerized databases Embase, PubMed, Web of Knowledge, and PsycInfo were searched for studies published between January 1995 and March 2011 reporting language functions in preterm-born children. Outcome measures were simple language function assessed by using the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test and complex language function assessed by using the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals. Pooled effect sizes (in terms of Cohen's d) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for simple and co RESULTS: Preterm-born children scored significantly lower compared with term-born children on simple (d = -0.45 [95% CI:-0.59 to -0.30]; P < .001) and on complex (d = -0.62 [95% CI: -0.82 to -0.43]; P < .001) language function tests, even in the absence of major disabilities and independent of social economic status. For complex language function (but not for simple language function), group differences between preterm-and term-born children increased significantly from 3 to 12 years of age (slo CONCLUSIONS: While growing up, preterm-born children have increasing difficulties with complex language function. Pediatrics 2012;129:745-754
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)745-754
Number of pages10
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Research programs

  • EMC MM-03-54-04-A
  • EMC OR-01-62-02

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