Public Release: 

Preterm children do not have an increased risk for dyscalculia

Developmental psychologist says more standardised diagnostic criteria are needed

Ruhr-University Bochum

Preterm children do not suffer from dyscalculia more often than healthy full term children. Dr Julia Jäkel, a developmental psychologist from Bochum, and her colleague Prof Dr Dieter Wolke from the University of Warwick, UK proved this thesis to be true in their analyses - thus refuting previous scientific studies. Unlike other studies, the researchers took the children's IQ into consideration.

Dyscalculia in preterm children often impossible to diagnose

Preterm children often have cognitive deficits; they find solving complex tasks particularly difficult. However, dyscalculia is as rare in those children as in their healthy term born peers. In order to assess specific mathematics deficiencies, children in Germany undergo a number of tests. If their result falls below a specific cut off value in maths, whilst their general cognitive skills (IQ) are normal, the diagnosis is "maths learning disorder" or "dyscalculia". But because preterm children frequently have general cognitive problems, they are impossible to be diagnosed with current criteria; consequently, they do not receive the required tuition in maths. Julia Jäkel thus argues for internationally standardised criteria which would allow diagnosing dyscalculia in children with mild cognitive impairments.


Complete article online in the science magazine RUBIN

A detailed article with pictures can be found in the online magazine RUBIN, the RUB's science magazine: Text and images on the download page are free for use for editorial purposes, provided the relevant copyright notice is included. Would you like to receive a notification when a new RUBIN article is published? Then subscribe to our news feed at

Further information

Dr Julia Jäkel, Developmental Psychology, Faculty of Psychology at the Ruhr-Universität, 44780 Bochum, Germany, phone: +49/234/32-22294, email:

Bibliographic record

J. Jäkel and D. Wolke (2014): Preterm birth and dyscalculia, The Journal of Pediatrics, DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2014.01.069

Editor: Dr Julia Weiler

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.