Child & Family Development Child & Family Development

May 13, 2016

Prematurity: the school years


Prematurity is a growing medical concern that has serious and predictable effects on child development.  2015 research by the March of dimes shows that one in ten babies is born prematurely in the United States, with Charlotte and North Carolina ranking average in comparison with other places.  

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 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.   

Child and Family Development has a focus to maximize the potential of every child with a holistic approach to therapy. We believe that a child of any age is connected to his family, his friends and his community and makes a valuable contribution to our world.  For more than 35 years, C&FD has been working closely with children and families, pediatricians, teachers and many others in the community.  Our therapy services include Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy, Education and Psychology. While these are our core areas of expertise, we also work with a child psychiatrist and offer many specialty services. With over 400 years of combined professional experience, our clinical team is the foundation of our success and service.  Our experienced team assists families with a wide variety of concerns and questions. Extended education and training enables us to help many people in extraordinary ways. We work with children and young adults of all ages– from newborns to college age.  Our mission statement says it all- to provide comprehensive, quality and integrated service to you. Visit our website to learn more.