Ann L. Robson

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


An extensive literature investigating the consequences of low birthweight for childhood development has focused on group differences and the prediction of global cognitive outcomes. The purpose of this thesis was to identify factors that predict specific childhood outcomes and to consider explanatory models of the role of early medical risk for childhood language, motor and attention outcomes. Ninety low birthweight children participating in a prospective longitudinal study were assessed at {dollar}5{lcub}1\over2{rcub}{dollar} years of age. Although there were no consistent differences between within-sample medical risk subgroups on the childhood outcome measures, regression analyses demonstrated that both early medical risk and environmental factors must be considered in prediction, as the predictive utility of these factors varied for different childhood outcomes. Medical risk predicted motor outcome, whereas infant environmental factors predicted language and attention outcomes. Path analyses of models of language, motor and attention outcomes suggested that both early medical risk and infant environmental factors had an indirect effect on childhood outcomes, and that the effects of these factors, infant developmental status, and the quality of the childhood environment vary for different outcomes. The relations between these models and underlying developmental processes were discussed, as were implications for future research.



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