IUGR negatively impacts language development in children
MedWire News: Children with intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) experience deficits in language skills, suggest study findings showing impairments in their language comprehension and total expressive language.
"Our results suggest that long term reprogramming of the central nervous system in utero brings out slow postnatal head growth that results in changes of brain structure which are important for language development," say Andrea Šimić-Klarić (General County Hospital, Osječka, Croatia) and co-authors.
Language development and impact of postnatal head growth were assessed in 50 pre-school children aged an average of 6 years and 4 months, who were born with asymmetrical IUGR (born at term with birthweight below the tenth percentile). Assessments were performed in an additional 50 children with no IUGR matched for age, gender, and maternal education.
Assessment of language with the Reynell Developmental Language Scale, Naming test, and Mottier test revealed significantly lower scores among children with IUGR in language comprehension, total expressive language (vocabulary, structure, content), naming skills, and non-words repetition, compared with non-IUGR children.
Children presenting neonatal complications with IUGR showed significantly poorer outcomes in language comprehension and total expression compared with those with IUGR but no neonatal complications.
Further analysis revealed that children with birthweights below the fifth percentile showed significantly worse performance in non-words repetition compared with those with birthweights below the tenth percentile.
When the team examined the influence of head growth on language development, they found that head growth in centimeters was significantly correlated with language comprehension.
Significant positive correlations were also found between relative growth of the head (incorporating head circumference and birth and body weight) and language outcome. All tested variables showed positive correlation with relative growth of the head in relation to weight gain, with the strongest correlations seen for language structure and total expression score.
"Language development difficulties could have a negative impact on future academic achievement in children with IUGR," conclude the researchers in the European Journal of Paediatric Neurology.
By Ingrid Grasmo