Child & Family Development Child & Family Development

November 17, 2016

Prematurity Series: the school years

March of Dimes Foundation. A Fighting Change For Every Baby

November is Prematurity Awareness Month!

March Of Dimes has released some new and concerning information about an increase in preterm birth rates for the first time in more than 8 years, as well as statistics about North Carolina and the US.  Visit their website to read more.

During this month, read the Child and Family Development blog series about prematurity and it’s serious and predictable effects on child development during:

  • nursery years
  • preschool years
  • school years 

A baseline evaluation and ongoing assessment of children born prematurely can identify challenge areas and guide a proactive plan for a child to develop the necessary skills to be successful at every age. There are a number of ways that prematurity can affect children in the early stages of growth, especially during the SCHOOL YEARS.   Research indicates that children born three months prematurely are 3-4 times more likely to struggle in school than full term peers and can have learning disabilities that persist while teenagers. One study found higher levels of anxiety, depression and aggression and lower self esteem too.  

  • May be described as clumsy or uncoordinated
  • May have difficulty acquiring complex motor skills such as skipping, hopping or doing jumping jacks, as well as poor physical endurance when compared to peers
  • May have difficulty following directions in the classroom, remembering assignments and learning to read

Our multidisciplinary team recommends that all children born prematurely be assessed for developmental skills and educational readiness during infancy, the preschool years and early school years.  Even children who demonstrate typical development during early years remain at risk for delays and may experience significant challenges as they get older.  

Early referral and early intervention allows potential problems to be identified and monitored to lessen the impact on academics and other areas.  An early and thorough plan will answer parent’s questions, establish a support system and ensure optimal development.