Premature Birth Linked to Mental Health Problems
> 7/25/2007 11:33:14 AM

Though the survival and relative well-being of a baby born prematurely may seem like a minor miracle, more than 50% of such children will, according to recent reports, suffer from various mental and physical health problems throughout their lives. The results of a recent Swedish study fell in line with previous research indicating that children born after a gestation period of 26 weeks or less were far more likely to encounter problems with socialization and depression as adolescents. Fortunately, most of these issues were not truly debilitating. While affected children had a much higher instance of learning disabilities, the vast majority continued to attend the same schools as those born after a standard nine-month pregnancy. Still, from an economic perspective, the eventual costs to Swedish society increased along with respective degrees of prematurity: at the time of follow-up surverys, most were living independent, self-supportive lives, but the earlier each child was born, the more likely he or she was to require financial assistance from the government as an adult. Fewer affected individuals acquired college degrees, and their net salaries as adults aged 23-39 were lower than those of control cases.

The conclusions of two-year-old British study of children born under the same circumstances were less optimistic: while 20% of the patients had no real health problems, 40% registered severe or moderate mental disabilities at six years of age. 12% had chronic motor impairments such as cerebral palsy and slightly more than a third had other minor issues such as subpar vision and hearing. Most importantly, teachers noted that they had more trouble adjusting to the school environment and interacting with other children along with a predisposition toward mood disorders. They are, in fact, 70% more likely to develop ADHD, especially if their birth weights are very low. While medical advances allowing for the greater likelihood of the survival of premature children are a good thing, parents and professionals in the healthcare system should pay particular attention to their heightened individual needs in order to either curtail or minimize the mental and physical health problems that so many of them will eventually encounter.


i have a son that was born at 29 weeks gestation and is 5 years old now and having some difficulties in school and also at home
Posted by: martie 11/2/2007 11:15:13 AM

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