Long-Term Effects on Preemies Is Not Good News

low birthweight baby risk
My Tiny One
While my daughter was just a tiny bit premature (if she'd hung on for one more day, she wouldn't have even been premature, "technically") and I only got a small taste of the NICU, there are thousands of other parents out there who sit anxiously by the baby incubator in hopes that their tiny baby will pull through, and eventually go home with the rest of the family. Those days can be long and filled with anxiety.

For those of us who thought our baby had made it through the worst once she's snuggled up with mom on the couch, well, that may not be the case as a new study shows the long-term effects on low-birthweight babies, who are often premature. This certainly isn't the best way to start your day, but if you are the parent of a premature baby or a low-birthweight baby, you'll need this information.

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A study out of Finland shows that babies weighing 3.3 pounds or less at birth score lower on cognitive tests as adults in the areas of general intelligence, attention, visual memory, and executive functioning. Very often low-birthweight babies are premature, but not always. So it is not clear whether the damage is as a result of weight or a low gestational age. What is probably true is that the lack of oxygen in the brain causes long-term problems even in babies who are sent home with a clean bill of health.

This is a bummer, and perhaps something that we can change since we are now armed with this information. One mom to a preemie, and author, suggests that early intervention be made available to all premature and low-birthweight babies, and that certainly seems like a good way to boost a child's cognitive function. Of course the other solution is to spread the word so more women will receive adequate pre-natal care and therefore be at a lower risk of delivering a low-birthweight baby.

We can't stop all babies from being born early and at a low-birthweight. But if women know the possible outcomes can have such a long-term negative effect, moms can be more prepared when they take their tiny one home from the NICU.

Did you have a low-birthweight baby?


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