Extremely Preterm Babies Are More Likely To Struggle In School And To Have A Tougher Life As Adults

By Christian Dann Quiroz, Parent Herald March 29, 06:23 am

Doctors can now save infants from dying of extremely preterm birth. However, two studies state that these babies are more likely to struggle in school and to have a tougher life as adults.

According to Business Insider, the first study focused on those who were born at no more than seven months gestation. More than half of the babies were noted to have moderate to severe intellectual disability and received below average in academic test scores.

The second group is those who were born at no more than 8 months. When they reached adolescence and adulthood, these individuals think that health problems ruined the quality of their life.

"In terms of extremely preterm infants, there are multiple reasons why we are seeing deficits and poor performance later," said Dr. Margaret Kern, a researcher at the University of Melbourne who wasn't involved in the studies. "Biologically, there is a lot of key development that occurs across the cycle, and when that is cut off very early it raises risk—like an uncooked cake, there isn't enough time for things to come together fully," she added.

The factors that caused their early arrival may also affect the preemies in getting help to overcome developmental deficits.

"There are a whole host of related issues involved, including less knowledge and education by the mother and father, if involved in the life at all, which often is not the case, and poor nutrition and other health behaviors," Kern said.

Premature infants are more likely to have difficulty breathing and digesting food. Some of them may also suffer from longer-term challenges like poor hearing, impaired vision, cognitive skills and social and behavioral problems, as reported by Fox News.

Jill Zwicker, a pediatrics researcher at the University of British Columbia who is also not involved with the study said that the life-saving medical care that the preemies received in intensive care units for infants can contribute to developmental deficits.

Infants were exposed to invasive procedures such as tube insertions to help them breathe, heel pokes to draw blood and other medications. Their brain development was supposed to be at rapid rate at that time, however, the procedures make the brain development slower leading to poorer cognitive.

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