Brighter futures: Enhancing early development in preterm children

Published on
13 May 2024
Dr Nenagh Kemp in front of a blackboard

Thanks to the diligent work of Dr. Nenagh Kemp and the support from the Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation’s donors, the Psychological Outcomes of Preterm Children in Tasmania (POPIT) project is exploring important cognitive challenges in preterm children. The project investigates executive functions such as the ability to plan and consider various factors in decision-making, which are crucial for the best start in life.

Housed within the Royal Hobart Hospital, the POPIT project has developed a unique research database that gathers a comprehensive range of cognitive and behavioural data. This initiative is vital as being born preterm can influence a child's cognitive development, potentially affecting their everyday functioning at home and in school settings. The project aims to refine assessment tools that predict real-world functioning in these children, setting long-term goals for enhancing early developmental strategies.

Since its inception in September 2020, the project has engaged 42 families, contributing valuable data toward understanding executive functions in preterm children. The assessments, involving psychologist-led tasks and feedback from parents and educators, offer a comprehensive view of the children's capabilities. The preliminary findings from the research are promising and indicate that certain factors may positively impact cognitive development.

Aligned with Mental Health Awareness Week commencing 13 May 2024, the POPIT project underscores the importance of early developmental interventions. By focusing on enhancing the cognitive capabilities of young children, the research aims to provide them with the tools they need for successful early years, paving the way for healthier future outcomes.

Building on the initial foundation set by Dr Kemp's research and the past support of the Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation, the POPIT project continues to emphasise the significance of understanding early cognitive development. The project remains committed to providing crucial insights into how we can better support the cognitive development of Tasmania's children, ensuring they have the best start in life. 

Your continued support is vital for research like Dr Kemp's to continue transforming lives. Learn more and contribute to groundbreaking initiatives by making a donation online or calling our office on (03) 6166 1319. Together, we can make a lasting impact.