A variety of antenatal risk factors have been established as being detrimental to a child's developing language ability. The aim of this research was to examine the relationship between exposure to cumulative risk (CR), including antenatal maternal, perinatal, and maternal health characteristics, and children's preschool language ability.
Analyses were comprised of interviews and observational data from 5,721 children and their mothers enrolled in the longitudinal "Growing up in New Zealand" cohort study. Language ability status was measured using the PPVT-III and DIBELS letter naming task (LNF) task at age 4.5 years.
Results showed that CR was significantly associated with language status on both measures after controlling for multiple covariates. Improving maternal awareness and support during the perinatal period may reduce the number of risks a fetus is exposed to, which may aid early childhood language development.