Mindfulness-based interventions improve executive function, behaviour in teens born very preterm

17 Oct 2021
Mindfulness-based interventions improve executive function, behaviour in teens born very preterm

Mindfulness-based interventions (MBI) may help reduce the detrimental impact of prematurity on executive, behavioural, and socio-emotional difficulties during young adolescence, a recent study has found.

Fifty-six young adolescents (aged 10–14 years) who were born very preterm (<32 weeks for gestation) participated in the present study. Participants were randomly assigned to receive an 8-week MBI or to a waiting group, after which groups were crossed over. Parent- and self-reported questionnaires, computer tasks, and neuropsychological batteries were used to assess executive, behavioural, and socio-emotional competencies at three different time points.

Compared to treatment as usual, MBI led to significant improvement in executive capacities in daily life in adolescents born very preterm, as reflected by scores in the Global Executive Composite (p=0.002) and Metacognition Index (p<0.001) subscales of the parent-reported Behaviour Rating Inventory of Executive Function tool.

Other parent-reported scores and neuropsychological testing revealed no further effects of MBI on executive function.

The MBI likewise led to significant improvements in general behavioural competencies vs treatment as usual, when assessed using the parent version of the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (p=0.017). Self-reported socio-emotional competency was not significantly affected by MBI.

“A longer MBI intervention might be beneficial for high-risk very preterm young adolescents. Although future investigations are needed, MBI seems a promising tool to enhance executive, behavioural, and socio-emotional outcomes in a vulnerable population,” the researchers said.

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