Friday, June 16, 2017

Preemies not at educational disadvantage once thought

My niece was born at 26 weeks, a little over 2 lbs. She is now a college grad in her 40s with a talented and gifted son of her own.

Yet, parents of premature babies often fret that their kids will be held back or do poorly in school.

They did a large-scale study at Northwestern that should reassure these parents.

--Two-thirds of babies born at 23 or 24 weeks were ready for kindergarten on time.

--While these extremely premature babies scored low on standardized tests, those born after 25 weeks were almost on par with full-term infants.

--After 28 weeks, the difference was negligible.

This study was unique in that it focused on educational prospects, not medical or physical development prospects.

Few studies focus on middle school performance of such a large group--1.3 million.

What about that standardized test performance gap? The study investigator said the glass was still more than half-full.

Did the children perform well in school on their own--or did they get extra help all along because of their prematurity? This was not determined--but by middle school, the kids were up to par on the tests.

Doctors can tell parents of premature babies, said the researchers, that they usually do "brilliantly."

Of course, this is statistically speaking. Individual experience is well...individual.

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