Visual sensory and perceptive functioning in 5-year-old very preterm/very-low-birthweight children




To examine visual sensory and perceptive functions, study their interrelations, and explore associations between visual dysfunctions and intelligence in very preterm/very-low-birthweight (VP/VLBW) children.


One-hundred and sixteen VP/VLBW children (57 males, 59 females; mean gestational age 30.1wks, SD 2.3; mean corrected age 5y 6mo, SD 1mo) and 73 term-born children (40 males, 33 females; mean gestational age 39.9wks, SD 1.3; mean age 5y 6mo, SD 3mo) completed visual sensory (acuity, visual field, contrast-, color-, and stereovision), perceptive (visual coherence, and Developmental Test of Visual Perception non-motor scale), and intelligence assessments.


Compared with term-born children, VP/VLBW children had reduced acuity (d=0.70, p<0.001), inferior visual field (d=0.67, p<0.001), and stereovision (v=0.19, p=0.008). VP/VBLW children showed weaker static coherence (d=0.49, p=0.001) and Position in Space (d=0.41, p=0.006) performance, independent of visual sensory deficits, and showed lower Verbal IQ (VIQ) and Performance IQ (PIQ; p<0.001). Visual perceptive functioning accounted for 13% of variance in VIQ, and for 35% of variance in PIQ.


Visual sensory and perceptive dysfunctions are present in VP/VLBW children and occur largely independently of each other. Visual perceptive dysfunctions are moderately associated with PIQ, and weakly with VIQ.