Neonates born with intestinal obstructions are treated surgically in infancy. There are no studies revealing the long-term motor and cognitive development of these children during childhood years. Researchers from the Division of Neonatology at Beatrix Children's Hospital aimed to fill in the gaps by testing motor and cognitive function at 6 and 13 years of age.

The 44 participants in the study were born from 1995 to 2002. All suffered from intestinal malrotation, stenosis or atresia at birth. Specific functions tested at 6 and 13 years included verbal memory, visual perception, visuomotor integration, attention, motor functions, and intelligence. 

Of the original 44 infants, three died before the follow-up. Twenty-seven were finally tested for motor and cognitive development. The only developmental functions affected were motor development (22%) and selective attention (15%). If the pregnancy was affected by growth restriction in utero, motor development outcomes were worse.

Close monitoring of infants, well into the teenage years, should be part of essential on-going care after being treated for intestinal blockage at birth.

Source: Elsinga RM, Roze E, Van Braeckel KN, Hulscher JB, Bos AF. Motor and cognitive outcome at school age of children with surgically treated intestinal obstructions in the neonatal period. Early Hum. Dev. 2012 Oct 18.