Kids Born Premature May Not Be Ready for Kindergarten

baby holding handWhile most people know that babies born premature face certain challenges after birth, preemies may still be struggling as late as kindergarten, according to a new study.


Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston tested the kindergarten readiness of nearly 5,000 5- and 6-year-olds who were born full-term and nearly 1,000 born early, before 37 weeks' gestation.

Preemies, on average, were 52 percent more likely to be unprepared for the kindergarten curriculum, scoring lower in skills that pave the way toward reading, math, and expressive language.

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As someone who was born premature, I already knew that preemies often struggled at birth. They often have trouble digesting food, their vision may be impaired, and they may suffer cognitive and developmental delays in their infancy. But I'd always figured that by the age of 5, these kinks had all been worked out! But this study suggests otherwise.

And that's not necessarily a bad thing -- it may just mean that preemies could benefit if doctors and parents didn't just assume that the problems of prematurity ended after infancy, but could ripple on up to the school years. That way, we can keep a watchful eye out for these developmental red flags, and get these kids the extra help they need to keep up with their full-term peers.


Image via MARCTRAN/shutterstock

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