Late preterm birth associated with poor cognition in adulthood (Importance of Prenatals)

Late preterm birth associated with poor cognition in adulthood (Importance of Prenatals)

Late preterm birth is associated with lower performance on neurocognitive, visuospatial and executive functioning tests in adulthood, according to data published in Pediatrics.


Katie Heinonen, PhD, from the Institute of Behavioral Sciences at the University of Helsinki in Finland, and colleagues used data from the Helsinki Birth Cohort Study, comprised of 919 Finnish men and women born 1934-1944.  The patients underwent the Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer’s Disease Neuropsychological Battery (CERAD-NB) in late adulthood (mean age, 68.1 years).

Data indicate patients born late preterm scored poorer on word list recognition (P = .03) compared with those born at term.  Those born late preterm with basic or upper secondary education also scored lower on word list recognition, constructional praxis, constructional praxis recall, clock drawing, Mini-Mental State Examination, memory and CERAD scores (P < .05), according to data. This patient population was also more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment (OR=2.7;; 95% CI, 1.14-6.38), according to researchers.  Heinonen and colleagues suggest several mechanisms that could explain this association.

“First, substantial brain development occurs during the last weeks of pregnancy, and the late preterm birth may affect these neurodevelopmental processes,” they wrote. “Second, neonatal morbidity associated with late preterm birth may add to the risk of brain injury and later neurocognitive impairment.”  Those with increased risk for impairments may also have an increased risk for neurological outcomes, they added.  Finally, the researchers suggest that the cause of preterm birth (ie, preeclampsia, hypertension, intrauterine growth restriction, and maternal smoking) may also contribute to the child’s neurocognitive impairment. – by Samantha Costa


Disclosure: Heinonen reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the full study for a list of all other authors’ relevant

financial disclosures.


Heinonen K, et al. Pediatrics. 2015;;doi:10.1542/peds.2014-3556. March 9, 2015


Patients with Parkinson disease and high homocysteine levels may be more likely to be depressed

Patients with Parkinson disease and high homocysteine levels may be more likely to be depressed

CHICAGO – Patients with Parkinson disease (PD) who also have high levels of homocysteine (an amino acid produced by the body) are more likely to be depressed compared with other patients with PD who have normal levels of homocysteine, according to an article in the June issue of The Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

According to information in the article, elevated homocysteine (Hcy) levels have been associated with an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer disease. High concentrations of Hcy have been associated with a
decrease in cognitive functioning, even in elderly patients without dementia, the article states. PD patients in particular are at risk for elevated levels of Hcy because the metabolism of levodopa, a drug commonly
used to treat the disease, produces Hcy.

Padraig E. O'Suilleabhain, M.B., B.Ch., of The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, and colleagues examined whether high Hcy levels were associated with depression or with cognitive, or
physical impairments in patients with PD.

The researchers studied 97 patients with an average duration of PD of 3.6 years. Patients were divided into two groups: those with normal Hcy levels (n=66) and those with elevated Hcy levels (n=31). Participants completed a
depression survey and underwent a variety of cognitive and motor tests. Fifty-four participants were taking levodopa.

"An elevated plasma Hcy concentration … was present in 31 (32 percent) of our 97 patients with fairly recent onset PD," the authors write. "An elevated Hcy level is most likely due to the prevalent use of levodopa: as
in previous studies, the patients taking levodopa had higher Hcy levels than those not taking levodopa."

The researchers found that patients with elevated Hcy levels were slightly older (68 vs. 62 years), were more depressed, and had worse cognitive functioning, but had no difference in physical functioning measures.

"Our findings, if confirmed, indicate that disease burden in PD patients, such as poor motor performance, depression, and cognitive deterioration, is associated with a high Hcy level," the researchers conclude.

(Arch Neurol. 2004;61:865-868. Available post-embargo at

Editor's Note: This study was supported by the Robert and Ruth Glaze Foundation, Dallas (Dr. O'Suilleabhain) and grants from the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md. (Dr. Diaz-Arrastia).

Subscribe to RSS - Health