The relationship between preterm birth and academic achievement among diverse early-life lingual environments Open Access

Judson, Emily (Spring 2019)

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Early cognitive development is an important predictor of children’s academic success as well as their health and life accomplishments. There is evidence that preterm birth is associated with cognitive development. However, the effect of early-life lingual environment on cognitive development is mixed. To our knowledge, there has been no examination of the combined effect of preterm birth and lingual environment. In this analysis, we aim to understand the independent effects of gestational age (GA) and lingual environment on cognitive outcomes, as well as the interaction of the two.



Data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) were used. We examined kindergarten reading and mathematics scale scores for 3,814 children born in 2001. Linear regression was used to understand the independent and joint effects of GA and lingual environment on cognitive development, using academic achievement as a proxy.



Main effects of GA were associated with cognitive outcomes in all models. After adjusting for covariates, main effects of lingual environment were not associated with cognitive outcomes. The linear regression models indicated that when adjusting for household socioeconomic status, child race/ethnicity, and maternal education and maternal age at delivery, there was no evidence of interaction between preterm birth and early-life lingual environment, except among early preterm children.



This analysis provides evidence of the association between preterm birth and cognitive development. Further research is needed to understand the factors that are creating the disparity in cognitive development between children born preterm compared to those that are not. These results will help inform educators and policymakers that household language is not the driving force of academic achievement.

Table of Contents

Introduction and Literature Review                                     1

Cognitive Development and Academic Achievement           3

Social and Environmental Disparities of Development         4

Early Development Predicts Educational Success                6

Predictors of Cognitive Development                                    7

Preterm Birth                                                                        7

Early-life lingual environment                                                11

Purpose                                                                                 14

Methods                                                                                16

Study Sample                                                                        16

Results                                                                                    20

Discussion                                                                             23

Strengths and Limitations                                                    25

Future Directions                                                                  26

References                                                                            27

Tables                                                                                    35

Table 1                                                                                  35

Table 2                                                                                    37

Table 3                                                                                    38

Table 4                                                                                    39

Figures                                                                                    40

Figure 1                                                                                 40

Figure 2                                                                                 41

Figure 3                                                                                 42

Appendix                                                                               44

IRB Approval                                                                         44

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