An extra week in the womb can make a difference
Full-term babies born short of 40 weeks – not only preterm babies – are less likely to become as academically or economically independent as their full-term peers, a large study suggests.
While parents have no control of when their babies might be born naturally, these studies may serve to inform planned births like C-sections. (PHOTO:Getty/Gallo)
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Full-term babies born short of 40 weeks – not only preterm babies – are less likely to become as academically or economically independent as their full-term peers, a large study suggests.

In an analysis carried out in Denmark it was found that babies who were born prior to the full 40-week gestational term were less likely to obtain a university education or get a high-paying job later in life. While a pregnancy usually lasts 40 weeks, babies born after 37 weeks are considered full-term. Infants  born earlier than 37 weeks are preterm.

According to EWN, researchers looked at data for babies born in Denmark between 1982 and 1986. The findings revealed that the earliest preterm infants fared the worst. In comparison with infants born at 40 weeks, babies who arrived at 22 to 27 weeks gestation were 79% less likely to have any education beyond high school and 34% less likely to be among the top wage earners in the study.

But in a long-running study at the University of Rhode Island in the US, professor of nursing Mary C Sullivan found that supportive, loving parents and nurturing school environments can help mitigate the effects of a premature birth and that children who were born preterm have a persistent drive to succeed. The study found that children of parents who provided a nurturing environment and who were strong advocates for their preterm children in school performed better academically, socially and physically.

According to Health Day, a review of 23 previous studies from eight countries found adults who were born tiny or early may be more likely to lag behind educationally and professionally. Dr Lisa Waddell, deputy medical officer of the March of Dimes, said these were important findings. “While we know that there are clinical consequences, this points out the impacts that preterm birth may have a long-term impact on the child into adulthood,” Dr Waddell said.

While parents have no control of when their babies might be born naturally, these studies may serve to inform planned births like C-sections.

 

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