According to a new study, six and seven-year-olds who were born extremely preterm, before the 28th week of pregnancy, were more likely to have deficits in overall intelligence, executive functioning (problem-solving skills), impulse control, and attention if they had more than two hours of screen time per day.
The study’s findings were published in the journal ‘JAMA Pediatrics’. The study found that those who had a television or computer in their bedrooms were more likely to struggle with impulse control and attention.
The findings indicated that excessive screen time may exacerbate the cognitive deficits and behavioural issues common in extremely preterm infants.
Betty R. Vohr, M.D., and colleagues conducted the study. The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health provided funding.
Previous research has linked excessive screen time among full-term infants to language, developmental, behavioural, and other problems.
The current study analysed data from a study of children born at or before 28 weeks. 238 of the 414 children had more than two hours of screen time per day, and 266 slept with a television or computer.
In comparison to children who spent less time on screens per day, those who spent more time on screens had an average deficit of nearly 8 points on global executive function percentile scores, a deficit of approximately 0.8 points on impulse control (inhibition), and a deficit of more than 3 points on inattention.
Children whose bedrooms contain a television or computer also scored lower on measures of inhibition, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
The authors concluded that the findings underscore the importance of physicians discussing the potential harms of screen time with families of extremely preterm infants.
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