Multilingualism was associated with lower cognitive outcomes in children who were born very and extremely preterm

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Aim: This study determined whether cognitive outcomes differed between very preterm (VPT) and extremely preterm (EPT) children who were monolingual or multilingual when they reached the corrected ages of two and five years. Methods: The data were collected at the Emma Children's Hospital, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, as part of our national neonatal follow-up programme and comprised 325 VPT/EPT children born between January 1, 2007 and January 1, 2012. The study used the Third Editions of the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development and the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence. Results: We compared 234 monolingual children, 65 multilingual children who spoke Dutch and at least one foreign language at home and 26 multilingual children who didn't speak Dutch at home. The best performers on the cognitive scale at two years of age and the verbal subscales at five years of age were the monolingual children, followed by the children who spoke Dutch and at least one foreign language at home, then the children who only spoke foreign languages at home. Conclusion: In our study cohort from The Netherlands, multilingualism lowered the cognitive and verbal outcomes of VPT/EPT children at the corrected ages of two and five years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-485
Number of pages7
JournalActa Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics
Issue number3
Early online date2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • Cognition
  • Immigration
  • Language
  • Multilingual
  • Prematurity

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