School-age Learning Disabilties and Preemie Connection

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When my girlfriend unexpectedly had her baby at only 25 weeks gestation, every seemed to happen so fast and in slow motion at the same time. One minute she was pregnant and in the mall, the next, she was a mother. Her sweet little girl was barely 2 pounds and we desperately feared for her life. Doctors said for good reason. Extremely premature births (children born below 26 weeks gestation) have higher death rates.

Today, however, my friend's daughter is a thriving 13-year-old at the top of her class. But a new report out of the UK on children born extremely prematurely shows that if they do survive, they are at high risk of developing learning difficulties by the time they reach the age of 11.

A study carried out by the University of Warwick, in collaboration with University College London and the University of Nottingham, showed almost two thirds of children born extremely prematurely require additional support at school.

The researchers found extremely preterm children had significantly lower reading and maths scores than classmates--in general these kids had a higher risk for cognitive and learning deficits affecting their schooling. Boys were more likely to have serious impairments than girls.

Was your child a preemie? Does he/she have any learning disabilities?

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