Screen Time Tied to Cognition, Behavior in Children Born Preterm

More than two hours of daily screen time may contribute to adverse outcomes in children aged 6 to 7 years who were extremely preterm at birth

FRIDAY, July 23, 2021 (HealthDay News) — High amounts of screen time contribute to adverse cognitive, executive function, and behavior outcomes at ages 6 to 7 years in extremely preterm (EPT) children, according to a study published online July 12 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Betty R. Vohr, M.D., from the Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island in Providence, and colleagues assessed the association of high screen time with cognition, language, executive function, and behavior among 414 EPT children at ages 6 to 7 years. Screen time exposure was characterized as low (two or fewer hours per day) or high (more than two hours per day).

The researchers found that 57 percent of the children had high screen time, with 64 percent having a television or computer in their bedroom. High screen time was independently associated with lower full-scale IQ. High screen time was also associated with an increased risk for deficits in executive functions, including metacognition, global executive function, inhibition, and Conners 3rd Edition-Parent Short-Form inattention, when adjusting for sex, gestational age, and social determinants of health. Similarly, a television or computer in the bedroom was associated with an increase in inhibition and hyperactivity or impulsivity problems.

“These findings support the need for clinicians to have heightened awareness of the risks for EPT children and discuss both the benefits and risks of screen time with families,” the authors write.

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