Disclosures: Vohr reports receiving grants from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network during the study. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
July 16, 2021
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Study links screen time to cognitive, behavioral issues in kids born extremely preterm

Disclosures: Vohr reports receiving grants from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network during the study. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
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More than 2 hours of screen time per day is independently associated with decreased cognitive and executive function among children aged 6 to 7 years who were born at less than 28 gestational weeks, researchers reported in JAMA Pediatrics.

Betty R. Vohr, MD, professor of pediatrics at Brown University, and colleagues conducted a secondary analysis from a trial conducted by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development that included 414 children born extremely preterm between Feb. 1, 2005, and Feb. 28, 2009.

Source: Adobe Stock.
Source: Adobe Stock.

They evaluated the children between 2012 and 2016 at ages 6 years and 4 months to ages 7 years and 2 months. The children were exposed to either low screen time (less than 2 hours per day; n = 176) or high screen time (more than 2 hours per day; n = 238).

Of the 414 children, 227 were male (55%), and the mean birth weight was 870.6 g. A total of 266 children (64%) had either a computer and/or television in their bedroom.

According to Vohr and colleagues, high screen time was associated with younger maternal age compared with low screen time (mean, 27 vs. 28.7 years), and being Black (Black 39% vs. white 35%). Having a television and/or computer in the bedroom also was associated with a younger maternal age (mean, 26.7 vs. 29.5 years), and being Black (Black 42% vs. white 33%). Additionally, having a screen in the bedroom was associated with a lower maternal education level, as well as having public insurance.

According to the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children IV, children with high screen time had significantly lower mean full-scale IQ scores after adjusting for center, male sex, gestational age and social determinants of health (mean difference, –3.92).

High screen time was also associated with an increase in deficits in executive functions, including metacognition (8.18), global executive function (7.49), inhibition (–0.79) and inattention (3.32).

Additionally, a television and/or computer in the bedroom was associated with an increase in inhibition (–0.80) and hyperactivity/impulsivity (3.5) problems.

“Our findings support the need for clinicians to discuss both the benefits and risks of screen time with families and share AAP recommendations,” the authors wrote.