Verbal short-term memory span in children: long-term modality dependent effects of intrauterine growth restriction.

R. Geva, R. Eshel, Y. Leitner, A. Fattal-Valevski, S. Harel

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27 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Recent reports showed that children born with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) are at greater risk of experiencing verbal short-term memory span (STM) deficits that may impede their learning capacities at school. It is still unknown whether these deficits are modality dependent. METHODS: This long-term, prospective design study examined modality-dependent verbal STM functions in children who were diagnosed at birth with IUGR (n = 138) and a control group (n = 64). Their STM skills were evaluated individually at 9 years of age with four conditions of the Visual-Aural Digit Span Test (VADS; Koppitz, 1981): auditory-oral, auditory-written, visuospatial-oral and visuospatial-written. Cognitive competence was evaluated with the short form of the Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children--revised (WISC-R95; Wechsler, 1998). RESULTS: We found IUGR-related specific auditory-oral STM deficits (p < .036) in conjunction with two double dissociations: an auditory-visuospatial (p < .014) and an input-output processing distinction (p < .014). Cognitive competence had a significant effect on all four conditions; however, the effect of IUGR on the auditory-oral condition was not overridden by the effect of intelligence quotient (IQ). CONCLUSIONS: Intrauterine growth restriction affects global competence and inter-modality processing, as well as distinct auditory input processing related to verbal STM functions. The findings support a long-term relationship between prenatal aberrant head growth and auditory verbal STM deficits by the end of the first decade of life. Empirical, clinical and educational implications are presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1321-1330
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2008


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