Preemies better at developing early language skills

New York, Jan 8 (IANS) Babies born preterm may be better at making the link between language and cognition in their early life than full-term babies due to an extra month of postnatal experience listening to language, researchers have found.

A study showed that preterm infants developed a robust early link between language and cognition, revealing that this vulnerable population begins life with a strong foundation for linking language and meaning.

This study helps to understand the roles of infants’ early experience and maturational status in establishing this critical language-cognition link, said Sandra Waxman from the Northwestern University in Illinois, US.

The team compared healthy preterm and full-term infants at the same maturational age or age since conception to identify the developmental timing of their link between language and object categorisation.

The results revealed that the preterm infants also have an opportunity to acquire an extra month of postnatal experience listening to language, as compared with their full-term counterparts.

Pediatric evidence reveals that although healthy preterm infants reach some developmental milestones on the same maturational timetable as their full-term peers, they nevertheless tend to encounter obstacles in language, cognitive and attentional processing capacities.

This is evident in their use of early intervention services from infancy through school age, the researchers said.

“However, the study provides assurance that whatever obstacles preterm infants face in later language and cognitive development, these are unlikely to reflect difficulties in establishing the foundational link between language and core cognitive processes,” explained Danielle Perszyk from the Northwestern University.

The study was published online in the journal Developmental Science.

–IANS

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