The Relationship Between Perinatal Risk Factors and Sensory Processing Difficulties in Preschool Children

Original Article


This study examined the relationship between reported perinatal risk factors and sensory processing difficulties in young children. The biological mothers of 152 preschool-age children completed two measures: the Maternal Perinatal Scale (MPS), a maternal self-report that surveys complications of pregnancies and medical conditions of the mother, and the Short Sensory Profile (SSP), a measure designed to provide information about the child’s ability to process sensory information and the sensory system’s effect on functional performance. Using MPS factors as predictors, separate stepwise regression analyses for each SSP section showed early neonatal status, and prenatal and birth/delivery factors to hold the most significant implications for future sensory processing difficulties. Total number of perinatal risk factors was also found to significantly predict some SSP scores. Implications for intervention are discussed.


Sensory processing Preschool Perinatal factors 


  1. Adamson, A., O’Hare, A., & Graham, C. (2006). Impairments in sensory modulation in children in children with autistic spectrum disorders. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 69(8), 357–364.Google Scholar
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington DC: Author.Google Scholar
  3. Anderson, P., Doyle, L. W., & Victorian Infant Collaborative Study Group. (2003). Neurobehavioral outcomes of school-age children born extremely low birth weight or very preterm in the 1990s. Journal of the American Medical Association, 289, 3264–3272.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ayers, A. J. (1989). Sensory integration and Praxis tests manual. Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services.Google Scholar
  5. Baranek, G. T., David, F. J., Poe, M. D., Stone, W. L., & Watson, L. R. (2006). Sensory experiences questionnaire: discriminating sensory features in young children with autism, developmental delays, and typical development. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47(60), 591–601.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Canivet, C., Jakobsson, I., & Hagenader, B. (2000). Infant colic. Follow-up at four years of age: Still more “emotional”. Acta Pediatrica, 89, 13–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cermack, S., & Groza, V. (1998). Sensory processing problems in post-institutionalized children: implications for social work. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 15(1), 5–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cohn, E., Miller, L. J., & Tickle-Degnen, L. (2000). Parental hopes for therapy outcomes: children with sensory modulation disorders. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 54(1), 36–43.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Creevy, D. C. (1986). The relationship of obstetrical trauma to learning disabilities. In M. Lewis (Ed.), Learning disabilities and perinatal risk. Urabana: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  10. Dawson, G. (1996). Neuropsychology of autism: a report on the state of the science. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 26, 179–184.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dawson, G., Osterling, J., Meltzoff, A., & Kuhl, P. (2000). Case study of the development of an infant with autism from birth to two years of age. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 21, 299–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dean, R. S., & Davis, A. S. (2007). Relative risk of prenatal complications in common childhood disorders. School Psychology Quarterly, 22(1), 13–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dean, R. S., & Gray, J. W. (1985). Maternal perinatal scale. Muncie IN: Ball State University.Google Scholar
  14. DeGangi, G. A., Craft, P., & Castellan, J. (1991). Treatment of sensory, emotional, attentional problems in regulatory disordered infants: Part 2. Infants and Young Children, 3, 9–19.Google Scholar
  15. Desantis, A., Coster, W., Bogsby, R., & Lester, B. (2004). Colic and fussing in infancy, and sensory processing at 3 to 8 years of age. Infant Mental Health Journal, 25(6), 522–539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dunn, W. (1999). Short sensory profile. San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar
  17. Fisher, A. G., & Bundy, A. C. (1992). Sensory integration theory. In H. Forssberg & H. Hirschfield (Eds.), Movement disorders in children (pp. 16–20). Basel: Switzerland: S. Karger Inc.Google Scholar
  18. Glasson, E. J., Bower, C., Petterson, B., de Klerk, N., Chaney, G., & Hallmayer, J. F. (2004). Perinatal factors and the development of autism: a population study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 61, 618–627.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Goldsmith, H. H., Van Hulle, C. A., Ameson, C. L., Schreiber, J. E., & Gensbacher, M. A. (2006). A population-based twin study of parentally reported tactile and auditory defensiveness in young children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 34(3), 393–407.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gray, J. W., & Dean, R. S. (1991). Neuropsychology of perinatal complications. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  21. Gray, J. W., Dean, R. S., & Rattan, G. (1987). Assessment of perinatal risk factors. Psychology in the Schools, 24, 15–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gray, J. W., Dean, R. S., Rattan, G., & Bechtel, B. A. (1988). Mothers’ self-reports of perinatal complications. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 17(3), 242–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gray, J. W., Davis, B., McKoy, K., Dean, R. S., & Joy, K. L. (1992). Mother’s self-report of perinatal information as predictors of school achievement. Journal of School Psychology, 30, 233–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hagerman, R. J. (2000). One: What is fragile X syndrome? In J. D. Weber (Ed.), Children with fragile X syndrome: A parents’ guide (pp. 1–32). Bethesda MD: Woodbine House.Google Scholar
  25. Hill, S. K., Cawthorne, V., & Dean, R. S. (1998). Utility of the Maternal Perinatal Scale (MPS) in distinguishing normal from learning disabled children. International Journal of Neuroscience, 95, 141–154.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hynd, G. W., & Willis, G. W. (1988). Pediatric Neuropsychology. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  27. Kapes, B. A. (2001). Sensory integration disorder. In J. L. Longe (Ed.), The Gale encyclopedia of medicine Vol. 4 (2nd ed., pp. 3002–3303). Detroit: Gale Group.Google Scholar
  28. Kemmis, B., & Dunn, W. (1996). Collaborative consultation: the efficacy of remedial and contemporary interventions in school contexts. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 50(9), 709–717.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Koomar, J. A., & Bundy, A. C. (1991). The art and science of creating direct intervention from theory. In A. G. Fisher, E. A. Murray & A. C. Bundy (Eds.), Sensory integration: Theory and practice (pp. 251–314). Philadelphia: F. A. Davis.Google Scholar
  30. Kruger, R. J., Kruger, J. J., Hugo, R., & Campbell, N. G. (2001). Relationship patterns between central auditory processing disorders and language disorders, learning disabilities and sensory integration dysfunction. Communication Disorders Quarterly, 22(2), 87–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Losse, A., Henderson, S. E., Elliman, D., Hall, D., Knight, E., & Jongman, M. (1991). Clumsiness in children—do they grow out of it? A 10- year follow-up study. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 33(1), 55–68.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ma, X-J, (1996). Perinatal complications as predictors of neuropsychological outcome in children with learning disabilities. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana.Google Scholar
  33. McGovern, R. (1991). Developmental dyspraxia or just plain clumsy? Early Years, 12(1), 37–38.Google Scholar
  34. Mick, E., Biederman, J., Faraone, S. V., Sayer, J., & Kleinman, S. (2002). Case–control study of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and maternal smoking, alcohol use, and drug use during pregnancy. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 41, 378–385.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Miller, L. J., Cermack, S., Lane, S., Ansalone, M., & Koomar, J. (2004). Defining SPD and its subtypes: Position statement on terminology related to sensory integration dysfunction. Retrieved August 30, 2006 from
  36. Minick-Vanhorn, R. E., Titus, J. B., & Dean, R. S. (2002). Maternal perinatal events as predictors of educational placement: computation of relative risk ratios. International Journal of Neuroscience, 112, 313–333.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. O’Brien, J., Tsermentseli, S., Cummins, O., Happé, F., Heaton, P., & Spencer, J. (2009). Discriminating children with autism from children with learning difficulties with an adaptation of the short sensory profile. Early Child Development and Care, 179(4), 383–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Parham, L. D. (1998). The relationship of sensory integrative development to achievement in elementary students: four-year longitudinal patterns. The Occupational Therapy Journal of Research, 18(3), 105–127.Google Scholar
  39. Parham, L. D., & Mailloux, Z. (2001). Sensory integration. 105–127. In J. Case-Smith (Ed.), Occupational therapy for children (4th ed., pp. 251–314). St. Louis: Mosby.Google Scholar
  40. Rogers, S. J., Hepburn, S., & Wehner, E. (2003). Parent reports of sensory symptoms in toddlers with autism and those with other developmental disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 33, 631–642.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rose, S. A., Feldman, J. F., Wallace, I. F., & McCarton, C. M. (1991). Information processing at 1 year: Relation to birth status and developmental outcome during the first five years. Developmental Psychology, 27, 723–737.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Schaaf, R. S., & Miller, L. J. (2005). Occupational therapy using a sensory integrative approach for children with developmental disabilities. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, 11, 143–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Scharfenaker, S., O’Connor, R., Stackhouse, T., Braden, M., Hickman, L., & Gray, K. (2002). An integrated approach to treatment. In R. J. Hagerman & P. J. Hagerman (Eds.), Fragile X Syndrome (3rd ed., pp. 363–427). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Scharfenaker, S., & Schreiner, R. (1989). Cognitive and speech-language characteristics of the fragile X syndrome. Rocky Mountain Journal of Communication Disorders, 5, 25–35.Google Scholar
  45. Schneider, W., Wolke, D., Schlagmüller, M., & Meyer, R. (2004). Pathways to school achievement in very preterm and full term children. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 19(4), 385–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Short-de Gtaaff, M. (1988). Human development for occupational and physical therapists. Baltimore: William & Wilkins.Google Scholar
  47. Stepp-Gilbert, E. (1988). Sensory integration dysfunction. Issues in Pediatric Nursing, 11, 313–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Taylor, E., & Rogers, J. W. (2005). Practitioner review: early adversity and developmental disorders. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46(5), 451–467.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Taylor, H. G., Klein, N., Minich, N. M., & Hack, N. (2000). Middle school-age outcomes in children with <750 g birth weight. Child Development, 71, 1495–1511.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wilkerson, S. S., Volpe, A. G., Dean, R. S., & Titus, J. B. (2002). Perinatal complications as predictors of infantile autism. International Journal of Neuroscience, 112(9), 1085–1098.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Williamson, G. G., & Anzalone, M. (1997). Sensory integration: a key component of the evaluation and treatment of young children with severe difficulties in relating and communicating. Zero to Three, 17(5), 29–36.Google Scholar
  52. Wislar, J. S., & Fendrich, M. (2000). Can self-report drug use data be used to assess sex risk behavior in adolescents? Archives of Sexual Behavior, 29, 77–89.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Yochman, A., Parush, S., & Omoy, A. (2004). Responses of preschool children with and without ADHD to sensory events in daily life. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 58(3), 294–302.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Yuanchun, R., & Yufeng, W. (2003). Sensory integration function and the executive function in children with ADHD. Chinese Mental Health Journal, 17(7), 438–440.Google Scholar
  55. Zeanah, C. H., Boris, N. W., & Larrieu, J. A. (1997). Infant development and developmental risk: a review of the past 10 years. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 36(2), 165–178.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Education and Human DevelopmentUniversity of Colorado DenverDenverUSA

Personalised recommendations