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Preemies may be just as ready for school as their peers


Premature babies also can get good results in school

New research provides hope for parents of premature babies. In a large study of over 1 million children, researchers followed how premature children developed in relation to their full-term peers. The researchers specifically looked at school readiness and standardized test scores for the comparison. What they found was surprising and positive.

The study showed that even really premature babies, born at 23 to 24 weeks, could do well in school and some were even gifted. And for babies born at 25 weeks or later, the chances of doing well in school was even higher as was the chance at being gifted.

Preterm babies are at risk for a number of health impairments and developmental delays. And at the time of birth it can be difficult to answer questions about how the child will perform academically later on. However, this study may offer hope to parents about the future academic success of their preterm baby.

The importance of reinforcing brain development of premature babies to support school readiness

This research study adds to previous studies showing that not all babies born prematurely suffer from long-term developmental impairments. The results of this study suggests that by age 5 or 6 years, the negative effects of being born prematurely on school readiness, achievement in math and reading, or scores on standardized tests may be less than expected in comparison to full-term infants. It seems that the gap in development between premature and full-term children closes significantly for many premature children by age 14.

Although this study did not look at specific actions that may have helped premature babies be ready for school, there are recommendations for all children that support brain development and school readiness. You can learn more about the value of reading to your child in my blog post, “One easy trick to boost your child’s brainpower and be smarter”.

And, the importance of talking to your baby frequently in another blog post titled, “The importance of talking to your baby during the first year of life”.

Although prematurity has been associated with poor school performance for a long time, new research is showing that this assumption may need to be re-evaluated. It will be important to find out what parents can do to support their preemie to be school ready and how these actions help premature infants in overcoming developmental delays.

SourceGarfield, C. F., Karbownik, K., & Murthy, K. (2017). Educational performance of children born prematurely. JAMA Pediatrics 171(8), pp. 764-770.

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Monday, 26 August 2019

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