Skip to main content

Inaugurals 2010

Dieter Wolke

Dieter Wolke

Date: 16 February 2010

Location: Medical Teaching Centre

Time: 6pm until 7pm, followed by a drinks reception

RSVP: Register here

See: Staff profile page

Small beginnings - large impact

Our research is concerned with the impact of preterm birth, regulatory problems in infancy and victimization by peers on child development and families.

In the UK, around 7% of children are born before term (i.e. <37 weeks gestation). Using prospective longitudinal designs, we identified a distinct phenotype related to preterm birth: an increased risk of disorganized attachment and autism, poorer simultaneous information processing, attention deficits and emotional problems, poorer academic achievement and peer relationships.

There is a clear non-linear gestation gradient effect that combined with recent brain imaging research, shows that very preterm birth confers both an insult to normal brain development and the superimposed risk of acquired brain injury.

Investigating peer victimisation in preterm children, we found a high prevalence of bullying involvement irrespective of prematurity. Our subsequent research programme has established that victimisation is not random but related to individual characteristics, differs between countries, is moderately stable over time, independently associated with severe symptoms of mental health including an increased risk of psychotic symptoms. The implications of our research for public health and interventions are discussed.