A new study suggests a link between premature babies and kindergarten readiness that may not be discovered even during screening at age 2. Even if a baby is just a week or two premature, they may be developmentally not ready for kindergarten at age five.

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Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston assessed kindergarten readiness at age five for 4,900 children born full term and 950 late preterm infants.  The late preterm children were born up to three weeks early. Study results showed that late preterm children were 52 percent more likely to be not ready for kindergarten.

“At this point we cannot tell which babies will do the worst and may need increased interventions prior to school entry, although our study suggests that socioeconomic status plays a large role as well as gestational age,” said lead study author Dr. Melissa Woythaler.

Babies born after 37 weeks gestation are considered full term.  A normal pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks.

The premature babies in this study were less likely to be white, born to married or college educated mothers, or living above the poverty line.

 

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