Course Introduction

Chances are, all of us have worked with children born prematurely, whether we were aware of the fact or not. Thanks to amazing advances in medicine, preemies are surviving (and often thriving!) in greater numbers and at younger gestational ages than in the past (see here, for example). Despite improved outcomes, we know that many of these infants are at risk for complications later in life, including delays in their communication skills. But how big is that risk factor, really? What kinds of impacts do we see later in life? And what red flags can early intervention therapists be watching out for, to predict which preterm clients are likely to need the most support? Here, we’ve collected five reviews of recent research studies on the relationship between prematurity and communication skills. The first two discuss prematurity as a risk factor in general, and how it intersects with other known risk factors, like social disadvantage. Two more reviews touch on other skills we can include in our birth-to-three assessments that can help inform us about future outcomes. The final review relates prematurity to behavior problems, and what we need to be looking out for on that front.

Learning Outcomes & Details

As a result of this course, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe how gestures, gaze, and joint attention can be used to predict and support early language development.

  2. Describe how social disadvantage plays into outcomes for children born preterm.

  3. Describe non-linguistic predictors of language development, such as fine motor skills and prematurity.

Course Type: Text; Web or downloadable PDF

Time: This is a half-hour course.

ASHA CEUs: This course is offered for .05 ASHA CEUs (Intermediate level, Professional area)

Course Completion Requirements: Read the full course, then take a quiz at the end. Must pass with a score of 80% or better (two attempts allowed).


Questions? See our frequently asked questions.


Course edited and compiled by:

Meredith Harold, PhD, CCC-SLP is owner of The Informed SLP and faculty at Rockhurst University. Financial Disclosure— receives salary from The Informed SLP and Rockhurst University. Nonfinancial Disclosure— Vice President of Speech–Language Pathology for the Kansas Speech–Language–Hearing Association Board; Board member of the American Speech–Language–Hearing Association Committee on Clinical Research, Implementation Science, and Evidence-Based Practice.

Karen Evans, MA, CCC-SLP is a speech–language pathologist at Intermediate District 287, and employee of The Informed SLP. Financial Disclosure— receives salary from Intermediate District 287 and The Informed SLP. Nonfinancial Disclosure— None.

Full research and writing team bios can be found here. The Informed SLP’s researchers and writers are prohibited from having any financial or nonfinancial conflicts of interest related to the content they research and report on.

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This course is offered for .05 ASHA CEUs (Intermediate level, Professional area).