Year One – Post 4 | Privy to Preemies
Did you know that more than a half million babies are born premature in this country each year? That is one in every eight babies. A premature birth is when the baby is born three weeks before his/her due date. A full term pregnancy is 40 weeks, so that means if your baby is born before 37 weeks, she would be considered premature.
Premature birth presents possible serious health risks, causing some babies to spend weeks or months hospitalized in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Some problems that could arise are:
- Intellectual disabilities (cognitive/reasoning skills)
- Cerebral palsy
- Vision and hearing loss
- Breathing and respiratory problems
- Feeding and digestive problems
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has become more interested in child development as a result of the increase in premature births. Parents of premature babies should follow the progress of their baby’s milestones to note if there are any developmental delays. My Baby Compass, Birth to Two will give parents the peace of mind knowing that their baby is on target for his/her developmental skills and that everything is okay; and if not, what to do and how to get help.
It is important to know that your premature baby follows his/her developmental age, rather than his/her actual age, for the first two years of the baby’s life. That means you simply subtract the amount of time between his delivery date and his due date from his current age. For example, the developmental age of a ten-month-old baby born two months early is eight months. So don’t panic if your baby is a couple of months behind if he was two months premature. Even if your baby is having more difficulty and you see a larger gap in his developmental milestones, early intervention by a health care provider can make all the difference in the world. You are your child’s best teacher – you just need to know what to do!
– Kathryn Thorson Gruhn, MA CCC-SLP, author of My Baby Compass