The role of special child services in extremely preterm children's neurodevelopment and behavior


December 2023

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The current study investigated the potential moderating effect of special child services, such as early childhood intervention, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy on the neurodevelopmental and behavioral skills of extremely preterm children. While survival rates of preterm infants have increased due to advancements in neonatal intensive care and perinatal technology, the risk of moderate to severe neurodevelopmental impairments, behavioral problems, and complex medical issues has also increased (Bell et al., 2022; Niklasson et al., 2003). Early detection and intervention for neurodevelopmental delays and behavioral difficulties are crucial, but community resources may be lacking after discharge from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (Fefferman et al., 2017; Forsythe & Willis, 2008). The study aimed to identify the contribution of special child services in improving the neurodevelopmental and behavioral outcomes of extremely preterm children and to encourage early detection and intervention.

The present study found that early intervention programs did not serve as a moderator in the association between cognitive skills and internalizing or externalizing problem behaviors. Additionally, speech therapy did not serve as a moderator in the association between communication skills and problem behaviors. However, occupational and/or physical therapy served as a moderator in the association between motor skills and externalizing problem behaviors, but not internalizing problem behaviors.



Neurodevelopment, Behavior, Extremely Preterm Children, Early Intervention