Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Infants born prematurely now represent about 12% of all live births in the United States and are at risk for numerous developmental issues. For example, children born preterm are at an increased risk (2-3 times greater) for later attentional problems. With the high rate of attentional issues in later childhood, it is crucial to assess young children born preterm with a valid measure. Currently, global assessments are commonly utilized in neonatal follow-up programs as a broad-based assessment of children born preterm. However, they are often poor predictors of later functioning. There are many different components of attention, and experimental tasks eliciting specific abilities may be more useful in detecting differences between term and preterm children

Participants were 81 toddlers and preschoolers born full-term and preterm. Children completed a battery of attentional measures as well a standardized/global assessment. Preschoolers demonstrated more mature attention patterns than did the toddlers. When examining birth status, differences were found in some areas (distractibility), but not all (e.g., executive functioning). The study has important implications for the optimal way to examine the development of attention in children at-risk for attentional delays and demonstrates that experimental measures may be more fruitful in detecting attentional differences in children born preterm than the commonly used global assessments.

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