Preterm Birth Complications May Not Become Apparent Until School Age

August 21, 2023

Review Urges Clinicians Not to Miss Therapy Opportunities for Children Born Premature

Children born before 37 weeks of gestation are considered preterm. Unfortunately, these children risk developing neurodevelopmental, cognitive and mental health issues later in life. A team of British researchers has recently conducted a review highlighting the developmental needs of children born preterm, focusing on problems that become apparent at school age. Their study’s main objective was to help guide clinicians to provide appropriate support to these children and their families. The authors had three key takeaway points from their research. First, they suggest that enhanced follow-up for children born preterm should be conducted around school age and include assessments of overall development, growth, hearing and vision, speech communication, attention levels, emotional and behavioral issues, coordination, academic performance, sleep, and mental health. Second, the authors recommend that clinicians use validated screening and assessment tools and recognize that children who perform in the lower normal ranges could benefit from early intervention before their challenges reach thresholds. Finally, the team indicates that multidisciplinary assessments and referrals for support and therapy should be initiated swiftly, as early intervention can impact overall outcomes. The study concludes that children with milder deficits could miss therapy opportunities. The authors advocate for a shift towards proactive interventions versus reactive or waiting for missed milestones. 

Original Study

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