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Late-preterm babies at greater risk for problems later in childhood
Date:11/22/2010

EAST LANSING, Mich. Late-preterm babies those born between 34 and 36 weeks are at an increased risk for cognitive and emotional problems, regardless of maternal IQ or demographics, according to new research published by Michigan State University researchers in the current edition of the journal Pediatrics.

While late-preterm births (full-term pregnancies last at least 37 weeks) have been associated with such problems before, the study represents one of the most rigorous looks at the issue by accounting for other potential causes, said the study's lead author, Nicole Talge, a postdoctoral research associate in MSU's Department of Epidemiology.

"Previous studies reveal that babies born a little early are at-risk for short-term medical problems and possibly long-term behavioral and cognitive problems," Talge said. "We wanted to look at a diverse population of children and take into account important factors such as maternal IQ and birth weight for gestational age; do the previously reported associations still hold up?

"We found late-preterm babies are between two and three times more likely at age 6 to have lower IQs as well as higher levels of attention problems and symptoms of anxious, withdrawn behavior."

Talge stressed that not all babies born late-preterm experience problems and that further research is needed into exactly what is contributing to the increase.

As part of the National Institutes of Health-funded study, researchers analyzed a cohort developed by Naomi Breslau, a professor in MSU's Department of Epidemiology. Data on babies born between 1983 and 1985 in both urban and suburban settings in southeast Michigan were analyzed and compared with data collected when the children were 6 years old.

For each late-preterm baby analyzed, a full-term counterpart was randomly identified as part of a control group, taking into account birth weight for gestational age.

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Contact: Jason Cody
codyja@msu.edu
517-432-0924
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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