A new long-term study of preemies shows mixed forecasts for the little ones’ futures.
On the one hand, they’re more likely to become ill, suffer heart problems and face academic and social challenges, even into adulthood. On the other hand, researchers say babies born early prove to be extremely resilient. Supportive parents and schools can go a long way towards cultivating this trait, helping preemies get a leg up on the challenges they face.
According to Time, the right kind of family support can make all the difference for kids born prematurely. They write:
One major factor: parents who are observant but not overprotective are the most effective advocates for their children when it comes to negotiating the health-care and school systems in order to help their child get the services they need. “They have to be persistent,” says Sullivan. Being born premature may put kids at a slight disadvantage when it comes to certain developmental milestones, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make up for them with the proper support.
The researchers stress that vigilance is essential with premature children. They can be thriving and doing fine in school till third grade, and then suddenly a new crop of problems emerge when more abstract concepts are introduced in the classroom. Infants whose early birth was accompanied by a serious illness are at higher risk for asthma, heart problems and possibly a host of other adult illnesses. Being aware of the medical risks gives parents and teachers a chance to anticipate problems and advocate for the kids before issues develop. That’s a huge boon to a kid facing extra challenges at every stage of development.
Do you have a premature baby in your family? How has being born early affected your kid? What have you found really successful in helping him succeed?