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Moderately Preterm Babies, EI Services and School Age Function

Pediatrics reports in the current issue that children who were born at 32-36 weeks gestational age are at greater risk for special education services than full term children at 8 years of age. Of the 377 children studied who were moderately preterm (with no NICU care or congenital malformations), the special education rate was 7.2% compared to the general Dutch population of 2.8%. The 32-33 week gestational age group were at a significant risk for grade retention when compared to the 34-36 week gestational age group. The preterm children also exhibited more behavioural issues, ADHD characteristics and decreased attention. The researchers concluded that this group of children need to be monitored at a young age.

The June 2009 issue of Pediatrics reported on a study that indicated that preterm children (34-37 weeks gestational age) are two times more likely to be eligible for early intervention programs compared to full term children. Although, many physicians are not recommending services due to unacceptable screening tools. The researchers recommend that physicians lower their threshold for administering an acceptable screening tool such as the Ages and Stages Questionnaire.

van Baar, Anneloes L., Vermaas, John, Knots, Edwin, de Kleine, Martin J. K., Soons, Paul Functioning at School Age of Moderately Preterm Children Born at 32 to 36 Weeks’ Gestational Age Pediatrics 2009 124: 251-257

Marks, Kevin, Hix-Small, Hollie, Clark, Kathy, Newman, Judy Lowering Developmental Screening Thresholds and Raising Quality Improvement for Preterm Children Pediatrics 2009 123: 1516-1523