It was reported in the media on Wednesday 2 September that adults born prematurely tend to have decreased academic abilities in school than their full term peers, resulting in fewer educational qualifications, and subsequent decreased wealth in adulthood due to being employed in lower status jobs.
The story has come from a study carried out with 15,000 adults born prematurely in Britain in either 1958 or 1970. It separated children into preterm (<37 weeks), early term (37-38 weeks) and full term, and they were assessed on indicators such as income, social class and employment status. The researchers found that the preterm group scored lower on most indicators, while the early term and full term groups tended to score higher.
Lead researcher, Professor Dieter Wolke, also recently published a study which found that children born prematurely are more likely to grow up to be introverted and socially withdrawn.
Bliss Chief Executive Caroline Davey said: “Although we must remember that babies born premature are not all the same and develop in different ways, the study highlights the need for extra academic support for children who are born preterm. It is essential that teachers and support staff in schools are educated on the specific difficulties that a premature child may face, and trained so that they can help the child reach their full potential at the earliest stages.
“It is also vital that babies receive the best possible care when they are born. We know from previous research that high levels of parental involvement in a baby’s care from birth onwards, including skin-to-skin contact, can help support healthy development.
“In addition, it is important to note that there have been considerable medical advances in the care of premature babies in the forty to fifty years since those in this study were born.”
If you have any concerns about your child’s development and would like advice and support, please visit our support pages or call the helpline on 0808 801 0322. You can also see which issues we are currently campaigning about, and what we are doing to support family-centred care.