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An assessment battery, measuring multiple aspects of language, was administered to 29 children between 4 and 5 years of age who had been born prematurely. The children, who weighed less than 2,500 grams at birth after less than 37 weeks of gestation, were recruited from a cohort of children originally admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit of the University of Alberta Hospital. All children had been examined by a pediatric neurologist at 18 months, and 20 were judged to be neurologically suspect. Each child was assessed in terms of oral/motor aspects, verbosity, phonological aspects, receptive semantics, expressive semantics, receptive syntax, and expressive syntax. Outcomes were categorized as pass/fail. Each child's passing score was the number of aspects passed out of a total of seven. The majority of neurologically normal preterm children had high passing scores, but appeared to be at risk for mild language delay. The majority of neurologically suspect preterm children had lower passing scores. They also performed significantly lower on several measures than did the neurologically normal children. Consequently, they appeared to be at risk for moderate and more generalized language delays. Language aspects most at risk for delay were oral-motor, phonological, and syntactic development. Semantic development, specifically lexical comprehension, was the least likely to be delayed. (AC)

Descriptors: Comparative Analysis, Delayed Speech, Expressive Language, Foreign Countries, Language Acquisition, Language Research, Language Tests, Neurolinguistics, Neurological Impairments, Premature Infants, Receptive Language, Semantics, Syntax, Toddlers

Autor: Holdgrafer, Gary


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