Uneven Linguistic Outcome in Extremely Preterm Children

  • P. De StefanoEmail author
  • M. Marchignoli
  • F. Pisani
  • G. Cossu


One primary problem in extremely preterm children is the occurrence of atypical language development. The aim of this study was to explore the components of language (articulatory phonetics, lexicon and syntax) in comprehension and production in extremely preterm children between the 4th and 5th year of age. The language section of the Preschool Neuropsychological Test was administered to 20 extremely preterm monolingual Italian children (GA < 28 weeks) and to a control sample of 40 full term children (GA > 37 weeks), matched for age and non-verbal IQ. Language comprehension was fully efficient in all of the components that we assessed. In the tasks of language production the clinical sample fared much worse than their age and IQ matched controls and the differences were highly significant (p < .001). Language acquisition in extremely preterm children may follow uneven developmental trajectories: language comprehension can be spared in the face of a selective impairment of language production at the level of articulatory phonetics and syntax.


Extremely preterm children Language development Cognition Preschool age 



No funding was secured for this study

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. De Stefano
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • M. Marchignoli
    • 2
    • 4
  • F. Pisani
    • 2
  • G. Cossu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
  1. 1.Physiology Unit, Department of NeuroscienceUniversity of ParmaParmaItaly
  2. 2.Child Neuropsychiatry Unit, Medicine and Surgery DepartmentUniversity of ParmaParmaItaly
  3. 3.Neurology UnitUniversity Hospitals of Geneva (HUG)GenevaSwitzerland
  4. 4.Child Neuropsychiatry UnitAUSL ParmaSud-East District, FidenzaItaly
  5. 5.Unit of Cognitive Neurorehabilitation for ChildrenPhoniatric Medical CenterPaduaItaly

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