Extremely premature kids likely to face learning difficulties by age 11

March 12th, 2009 - 1:17 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Mar 12 (ANI): Kids who are born extremely premature are likely to face learning difficulties by the time they reach the age of 11, say researchers.

The research team from University of Warwick, University College London and the University of Nottingham have revealed that almost two thirds of children born below 26 weeks gestation require additional support at school.

During the study, the researchers looked at 307 extremely preterm children born in the UK and Ireland in 1995.

They found that extremely preterm children had significantly lower reading and maths scores than classmates.

Moreover, extremely preterm boys were more likely to have more serious impairments than girls.

Overall, just under half of the extremely premature children have serious disabilities, such as learning difficulties, cerebral palsy and impaired vision or hearing.

Professor Dieter Wolke, from Warwick Medical School, said extremely premature birth placed children at higher risk for cognitive and learning deficits affecting their schooling.

“We found up to 44 pct of children had a serious impairment in core subjects such as reading and maths, and 50 pct had performance below the average range expected for their age, said Wolke.

Extremely pre-term children have a 13-fold increased risk of special educational needs requiring additional learning support and were 77 times more likely to have an educational statement at 11 years of age.

“These problems we have identified at age 11 that impact on schooling are likely to increase over time.

Existing difficulties may cause further problems when the children reach secondary school and engage in more complex academic activities,” he added.

This study is published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood Fetal Neonatal Edition. (ANI)

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