Planning and prefrontal lobe functioning in preterm and full term infants (pp. 325-340)
Authors: Jing Sun and Nicholas Buys
Abstract: This study investigates planning in preterm and full-term infants at eight months after expected date of delivery. Planning emerges in infancy and continues to develop throughout childhood. Planning is believed to underlie some learning problems in children at school age. This study investigated planning in preterm and full-term infants at eight months after expected date of delivery. Thirty-seven preterm infants without identified disabilities, and 74 due date and gender matched healthy full-term infants, participated in the present study. The preterm infants were all less than 32 weeks gestation and less than 1,500 grams birthweight. All infants were therefore assessed on planning tasks at 8 months after the expected date of delivery (when preterm infants were actually 10-11 months chronological age). The findings of the study showed that preterm infants performed significantly more poorly than full-term infants at both eight months corrected age and 10-11 month chronological age on measures of in one-step, three steps, four steps and five steps planning tasks, but not in two-step task. Medical risk, lower birthweight and lower gestation age were found significantly affect the performance on planning tasks. The findings of this study suggests that the deficits of planning in preterm infants may be associated with lower birthweight, shorter gestation and medical complications which may have further detrimental effect.