Delivery Even a Bit Early May Mean Developmental Delays

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Bucking the notion that being born a few weeks early has no discernible impact on babies, a new study indicates that "late preterm" infants face more developmental delays than their full-term peers and those delays may affect their school performance.

... late preterm babies were 52 percent more likely than term infants to suffer severe delays and 43 percent more likely to experience milder limitations. In motor skills, the preterm toddlers faced 56 percent increased odds of severe delays and a 58 percent increased risk of milder ones.

... 5 percent to 40 percent of U.S. births are now early elective deliveries, meaning that births are induced preterm without a valid medical reason ...

Noting that many of these at-risk infants receive little or no specialized developmental follow-up, Woythaler's data included babies with at least 34 weeks' gestation from wide economic and racial backgrounds who received complete assessments near the age of 2.

The brain of a baby at 34 weeks' gestation weighs 35 percent less than it would at term ...

Social factors and gender had the greatest impact on the children's mental scores ... with language spoken at home playing a key role ... In contrast, gestational age was the most important contributor to physical delays.

... Researchers have found such infants are at higher risk for respiratory problems, worse academic performance and school suspension down the road.

"There's a reason why normal gestation is 40 weeks," ...

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448