Premature Babies: Growth and Development

January 3, 2008 No Comments »

Your baby’s first year is a time of great change, just as it would be if she had been born on or near her due date. A child’s development is a complex, ongoing process. No two children mature at the same rate or in the same way. Development even varies from day to day and week to week. Over time, you will get to know your baby as an individual.

Because your child was born early, you should think of her progress in terms of “adjusted age.” For example, if your baby was 8 weeks early, adjust your expectations by 2 months. Therefore, a 4 month old premature baby may act like a full-term 2 month old. Try not to compare your child with full-term babies or focus too much on developmental charts. Your pediatrician will follow your child’s developmental progress.

If there are any developmental problems, the important thing is to catch them early, so that your child can be helped to adapt.

Some problems can show up right away; others do not show up for some time. You are in the best position to monitor your child’s development. Become familiar with your child’s general pattern of development, and if you think your child is showing signs of a hearing, vision, speech, muscle or learning delay, see your pediatrician as soon as possible. Early intervention programs that work with children from birth to 3 years may do a lot to lessen any long-term effect on your child’s learning.

One of the most important things you can do for your child is to make sure he receives all recommended check-ups and immunizations. Check-ups will help make sure your baby’s growth is on track, give your pediatrician a chance to catch any health problems early, and help you get your questions answered. If your baby has trouble gaining weight, has breathing problems, or any other problems that are of concern, your pediatrician may wish to see your child more often.

Immunizations can make sure your child’s health is not put at risk by serious childhood diseases, such as whooping cough, hepatitis, and meningitis. These diseases can cause death or leave your child with long-term health problems.

Some parents think their children do not need immunizations until they enter school. Actually, they should start when they are infants. Children should receive most of their immunizations during their first 2 years.

Most premature infants need to receive their immunizations at the same age as full-term infants, unless your pediatrician feels that this is not appropriate. Your pediatrician can help you make sure your child’s immunizations are given on time and are up-to-date.

Article from Medem 

American Academy of Pediatrics

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