A Preliminary Study of Executive Functioning in Preterm-Born Children: A Bilingual Advantage

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Advances in neonatal care : official journal of the National Association of Neonatal Nurses




BACKGROUND: Preterm-born children are at increased risk for deficits in executive function (EF). EF is a set of cognitive processes including inhibition, attention, memory, and decision-making, among others. Bilingualism, operationalized as productive capacity in 2 languages (ie, English and Spanish), may enhance EF in children born preterm and in term-born children. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of bilingualism on executive functioning in bilingual and monolingual preterm and term-born children using a robust measure of bilingualism. METHODS: This study examined the impact of bilingualism on EF in 17 monolingual or bilingual preterm-born children, aged 6 to 7. The preterm-born sample was also compared with a normed, term-born sample of 38 monolingual, typically developing 6- to 7-year-olds. RESULTS: On the Creature Counting task of EF, bilingual preterm-born children performed with more accuracy and total switches than monolingual preterm-born children. There was no difference in accuracy between the term-born and entire preterm-born samples. The bilingual, preterm-born children performed more accurately than the term-born sample. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE AND RESEARCH: This preliminarily suggests bilingualism confers an advantage to preterm-born children's EF. Further research is needed on bilingual advantage of preterm-born children.


Nursing Faculty Publications