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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2021

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Sarah Raz


Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR), or failure to meet expected growth rate, is associated with suboptimal birth weight (BW). Prematurity and IUGR combined represent unique risk for poorer outcome. The current study aims to add to the limited research regarding relationships between prenatal and postnatal growth and executive function (EF) in preterm (PT) preschoolers.

PT children (N = 217) were assessed at 3 – 4 years. Weight, length/height, and head circumference (HC) were collected retrospectively from birth, and measured at testing. Mixed model multiple regression was used. Predictors included prenatal and postnatal growth z-scores, change scores (birth to preschool age), SES, sex, and gestational age. Dependent variables included direct EF measures (verbal working memory [WM], verbal fluency, and inhibition), and parent ratings (BRIEF-P & CBCL subscales).

In accord with proposed hypotheses, lower standardized BW predicted elevated parent-rated behavioral dysregulation (t[96.36] = -1.77, p = .076). Suboptimal (≤ 15th %ile) birth HC predicted lower verbal WM (t[188.50] = -2.13, p = .035). Smaller preschool stature was associated with lower verbal WM after exclusion of neurological cases (t[195.63] = 1.89, p = .061). Smaller HC at preschool age, adjusted for birth HC, was associated with elevated parent ratings of behavioral dysregulation (t[86.82] = -2.19, p = .028). Smaller HC change scores also predicted poorer behavioral inhibition (t[202.64] = 1.90, p = .061).

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