Thesis Defense Announcement
The College of Arts and Sciences announces the Final Thesis Defense of
for the Degree of Master of Science
on May 8, 2018 at 10:00 AM in Psychology Building, Room 244
Advisor: Meghan McDevitt-Murphy
Cognitive, Adaptive, and Psychosocial Functioning of Infants and Toddlers Treated for Cancer
ABSTRACT: Many children with cancer are diagnosed during infancy and toddlerhood (<3 years of age), potentially resulting in disrupted and/or missed developmental opportunities. Diagnoses that affect the central nervous system are among the most common and are associated with an increased risk of neurocognitive problems. Unfortunately, there is a paucity of research regarding the functioning of very young children treated for cancer. The objective of this study was to describe the cognitive, adaptive, and psychosocial functioning of infants and toddlers with cancer evaluated at a hospital-based psychology clinic. Method: Data from 32 infants and toddlers with cancer and/or immunological disorders (Mage = 24.6 ± 6.6 months; 56.3% male) who completed clinically-referred assessments in a hospital psychology clinic from 2010-2015 were abstracted. Indicators of cognitive, adaptive, and psychosocial functioning were collapsed across measures prior to analyses. Results: Infants and toddlers were 13.32 months post-diagnosis (SD = 9.12, range 0 - 34.44 months) with a majority off-therapy at the time of assessment (59.4%). The majority of patients had brain (28.1%) or solid tumors (46.9%). Mean early cognitive scores were significantly below expectations [t(24) = -9.02, p < .001]. Adaptive functioning [t(27) = -7.03, p < .001] and some indices of psychosocial functioning were also significantly below expectations. Differences in early cognitive functioning were present based on diagnostic category but not treatment status. Conclusion: Infants and toddlers with cancer appear to be at significant risk for weaknesses in cognitive, adaptive, and psychosocial functioning, though some domains within psychosocial functioning are preserved. The surprising severity of deficits warrant the need for further investigation and consideration of this population to ensure optimal functional development.