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Children born prematurely have atypical Sensory Profiles



To determine if children born prematurely exhibit atypical responses to normally occurring sensory stimuli, as measured by the Sensory Profile.

Study design:

This is a cross-sectional study of children born at 32 weeks gestation, followed at 1 to 8 years of age. The Sensory Profile questionnaire was completed by each child′s primary caregiver. The overall Sensory Profile was considered atypical if any quadrant or section score was >2 s.d. from the mean of the Sensory Profile validation group. Bivariate analyses were performed to determine associations between risk factors for adverse neurodevelopment and overall atypical Sensory Profiles. A section or quadrant was considered atypical if its score was >2 s.d. from the mean. A test of proportions was used to compute observed versus expected scores for each section and quadrant (Sensory Profile scores were based on a normal distribution so one would expect approximately 95% of participants to score within 2 s.d. of the mean).


Of our 107 participants, 39% had an atypical score in at least one section or quadrant. No specific perinatal or neonatal risk factors were associated with atypical overall Sensory Profiles (P0.05 for all). Children born prematurely were at risk of having atypical scores in the auditory, tactile and vestibular processing sections, and in the four Sensory Profile quadrants (P<0.05).


Children born prematurely exhibit atypical sensory behaviors on the Sensory Profile. Further investigation to understand the underlying neural mechanisms and to develop effective interventions are critical to support neurodevelopment for these children.

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AJB receives funding from the NINDS (R01). EJM receives funding from the Wallace Research Foundation and the NIMH (K23). This project was supported by the National Center for Research Resources and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health, through UCSF-CTSI Grant Number UL1 RR024131. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

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Correspondence to E J Marco.

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Wickremasinghe, A., Rogers, E., Johnson, B. et al. Children born prematurely have atypical Sensory Profiles. J Perinatol 33, 631–635 (2013).

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  • Sensory Profile
  • prematurity
  • sensory behavior
  • follow-up

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