Decline in Processing Speed Tells Only Half the Story: Developmental Delay in Children Living with Sickle Cell Disease

Elise J. Walker, Fenella J. Kirkham, Anna M. Hood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Children with sickle cell disease (SCD) may experience cognitive difficulties, including slowed processing speed. Thus, we investigated if processing speed changes over time. From 1992–2001, 103 participants with SCD aged 3–16 years (n ≤ 8.99 = 45; n ≥ 9.00 = 58) completed cognitive assessments. MRI was available for 54 participants. Between 1992–2002, 58 participants consented to one or two further assessments. A repeated measures regression using linear mixed-effects modelling determined longitudinal changes in processing speed index (PSI), examining the interaction between age (continuous variable) and timepoint (i.e., assessment 1 or 3) and controlling for MRI infarct status (i.e., no infarct, silent infarct, or stroke). Those aged ≤ 8.99 and ≥ 9.00 at first assessment experienced PSI decline. Declines were most prominent for the processing speed Coding subtest, with a significant interaction between timepoint and age, t(31) = 2.64, p = .01. This decline may reflect developmental delay, likely due to disease progression, with slower improvements in processing speed. Although there have been significant improvements in SCD treatments, mostly
in high-income countries, processing speed still remains a target and thus, incorporating clinical monitoring of processing speed may help identify delay and allow for early intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Article number277
JournalChildren
Volume11
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2024

Keywords

  • sickle cell disease
  • processing speed
  • longitudinal
  • delay
  • decline
  • cognition

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