Early psychological development of very preterm and/or low birth weight children: a review of the literature

Maria-José González-Valenzuela, Milagros Fernández-Molina, Myriam Delgado-Ríos


Objective – The aim of this paper is to describe the psychological development in three areas (cognitive, communicative-linguistic and social-emotional domains) of very preterm children and/or low birth weight, aged from 0 to 6 years, to discover if problems exist and if these difficulties remain, decrease or increase over time, up to 6 years of age, through of review of studies done in this population.

Materials and methods – Seven databases were searched. The search yielded 975 studies and those related to cognitive, communicative-linguistic and social-emotional development in children without physical problems, ranging in age from birth to 6 years, gestational age less than 32 weeks and/or birth-weight less than 2499 grams were analyzed. Most of the 47 studies analyzed were conducted after 2005, focused on children aged 3-5 years, and compared preterm and full-term infants.

Results – The studies agree that preterm children differ in many developmental domains but there is no consensus on others. Several studies found a close association between the three different areas analyzed.

Conclusion – Early intervention of preterm and/or low birth weight children is the most important way to prevent and/or reduce academic, communicative and social-emotional (anxiety/depression) problems, and improve long-term adaptation to the environment, self-regulation, communication skills, social competence and academic performance in general.


Premature infant; Child development; Language; Cognition; Emotion

Full Text:


DOI: https://doi.org/10.5457/p2005-114.116


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

The full text of articles published in this journal can be used free of charge for personal and educational purposes while respecting authors and publishers' copyrights. For commercial purposes no part of this journal may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher.