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Everyday Memory and Cognitive Ability in Children Born Very Prematurely

  • Josie Briscoe (a1), Susan E. Gathercole (a1) and Neil Marlow (a2)


In light of recent reports of episodic memory difficulties linked to early childhood hypoxia (Isaacs et al., 2000; Vargha-Khadem et al., 1997), preliminary findings of everyday memory function are reported for 20 children born at or before 32 weeks gestation, compared to 20 children born at term. Memory skills were assessed using the Rivermead Behavioural Memory Test for Children (Wilson, Ivani-Chalian, & Aldrich, 1991) at 5 years of age. Everyday memory problems were not found to be a general feature of children born prematurely, and performance was closely linked to receptive language ability but not general cognitive ability in both groups of children. Three children in the preterm group did obtain scores in the impaired range of the RBMT, and in two of these children memory impairment could not be predicted from their receptive language ability. This suggests an increased risk of everyday memory difficulties in populations of preterm children that may be enhanced in further studies by sampling children with greater risk of hypoxic insult.


Corresponding author

Requests for reprints to: Dr Josie Briscoe, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol, 8 Woodland Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1TN, U.K. (E-mail:



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