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URI nursing study finds effects of premature birth can reach into adulthood
Date:6/15/2011

ys:

  • Effects of pre-term birth do not disappear after age 2 or even after pre-term children catch up physically with full-term babies.

  • Learning disabilities and other functioning issues often do not appear in premature babies until second grade and middle school years.

  • Pre-term infants with no medical conditions have more learning disabilities, struggles with mathematics and need more school services than full-term babies. One of Sullivan's studies determined that at least one-third of babies born pre-term needed school services at some point during their education. Out of that group, 22 percent of the healthy pre-term babies received school services. Almost one quarter of this group had an Individualized Education Plan (special education plan governed by federal and state law), with 15 percent receiving resources, 7 percent in self-contained classroom settings, and 11 percent receiving speech and language services.

  • Some children of pre-term birth are less coordinated, which may be related to brain development and effects of neonatal intensive care.

  • They have fewer friends and boys have more difficulty in school.

On the positive side, Sullivan found:

  • Children who were born pre-term have a persistent drive to succeed.

  • Children whose mothers provided a nurturing environment and who were strong advocates for them in school performed better academically, socially and physically. These are called protective factors and they work to counter the effects of pre-term birth.

"These findings are important for parents, nurses in the neo-natal intensive care units, teachers and staff in the schools, disability services offices in colleges and primary care providers," Sullivan said. "By identifying the issues pre-term babies face in childhood, adolescence and through adulthood, we can all be better prepared to take steps to mitigate their effe
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Contact: Dave Lavallee
dlavallee@advance.uri.edu
401-874-5862
University of Rhode Island
Source:Eurekalert

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