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Could Premature Babies Face Problems Later in Life?

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Updated: Saturday, Aug 29,2009, 2:28:32 PM
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Today, premature babies may have more risks to face than just those associated with the early weeks following the birth. The effects of a birth that is premature could last well beyond their childhood and affect their adult physical and mental health in numerous ways.

Dag Moster, researcher, MD, and PhD of University of Bergen in Norway, and his colleagues stated in the New England Journal of Medicine, "Recent advance in the care of premature infants have resulted in increasing rates of survival." "However, the increased prevalence of medical disabilities, learning difficulties, and behavioral and psychological problems among surviving preterm infants has raised concerns that these infants may have difficulties coping with adult life."Dag Moster, researcher, MD, and PhD of University of Bergen in Norway, and his colleagues stated in the New England Journal of Medicine, "Recent advance in the care of premature infants have resulted in increasing rates of survival." "However, the increased prevalence of medical disabilities, learning difficulties, and behavioral and psychological problems among surviving preterm infants has raised concerns that these infants may have difficulties coping with adult life."

Norway researchers studied the birth and health records of approximately a million adults and found that the risk of health and mental disorders ranging from cerebral palsy to mental retardation in adulthood. This instance is increased significantly with decreasing gestational age at the time of birth. A premature birth is considered to be a birth that is prior to 37 weeks of gestation.

In this study, the researchers analyze the national registry information on 903,402 infants that did not have birth defects and were born between 1967 and 1983. They then noted any social or medical disabilities noted through 2003.

After gathering this data, they compared it with adults who had been born at 37 weeks of gestation or later. These are the infants who had a premature birth and were at a much higher risk of a range of social and medical problems.

The researchers state, "Despite the higher prevalence of disabilities among persons who were born prematurely, it should be recognized that a large portion of the adults who were born prematurely and who did not have severe medical disabilities completed higher education and seemed to be functioning well."

The results, however, suggest that there is a continuous relationship between being premature and a wide range of social and medical issues and more research is going to be needed to identify the risk factors that predict long-term problems that are associated with being premature at birth and the development of preventive strategies.


 

Tags: Premature

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