Spontaneous language of preterm children aged 4 and 5 years

<div><p>ABSTRACT Purposes: to evaluate spontaneous language development through the Mean Length of Utterance in words (MLU-w) of children with gestational age between 28 and 36 weeks. This research also aims to study if the gestational age, birth weight, gender, and parents’ level of formal education can influence that measurement. Methods: nineteen premature children (9 males, 10 females), in the age range 4-5 years old, enrolled on Lisbon area kindergartens, and considered as having typical development, participated in this research. Spontaneous speech of each child was recorded for 30 minutes and transcribed afterwards. Results: mean values of MLU-w of Portuguese premature children were significantly lower than those with typical development. A positive and significant correlation between the gestational age and the birth weight with the MLU-w was also found. The gender of the children and the parents’ level of formal education showed no influence on the results. Conclusion: these results reinforce the need to identify, on these children, possible deficits, in order to prevent negative impacts in school education, and stimulate their psychosocial development.</p></div>