A group of colleagues from the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute and the University of Ottawa recently published their findings about the correlations between developmental problems and premature infants. In the research review, which was published in JAMA Pediatrics, the researchers found that approximately 14 to 31 percent of very premature infants develop conditions by the time they are four to eight years old. The researchers considered premature infants who were born between 22 and 25 weeks gestation, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
The researchers analyzed nine different studies conducted after 2004. The studies included comprehensive birth records and cognitive testing of 738 prematurely-born children from Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. They sought out children with severe developmental problems, which were defined as having one or more of the following characteristics: “an IQ more than three standard deviations below the mean, cerebral palsy without the ability to walk independently, no useful vision or no useful hearing,” according to CBC.
Overall, the researchers discovered no notable difference in the amount of children who had severe developmental problems whether they were born at 22 weeks or 25 weeks gestation, according to the Ottawa Citizen. The researchers did note, however, that “there was a six per cent decrease in developmental problems with every extra week of gestation” when “moderate” problems were considered.
The researchers say the new data will help doctors and future parents assess any issues that may arise from the birth of a premature child. This, in turn, will help parents make more informed medical decisions concerning their children’s health, according to Sun News. However, the researchers caution that every baby is different, and it is unlikely that one would be able to predict exactly how an infant might develop.