Extremely Premature Has Extreme Risks

Typically we think of babies with low birth weights as more likely to have disabilities, which is not true. It is the gestation period, not the birth weight that has the greatest influence. Kristen posted a page about babies born a few weeks early, but there are also many cases of babies born ten to fourteen weeks early (typical gestation is 37-42 weeks) The hard thing for doctors is that other than a major handicap (which has a likelihood of 90% fore babies born at 23 weeks or earlier), there is also a good chance for a learning disability but it often does not surface until a child goes to school.
An article in the USA Today reportsthat medical advances have made it more likely that the extremely premature babies will survive, but there is still no way to predict what sorts of disabilities they may have.

What it means for us:
As teachers knowing that a student was born prematurely is really not a good gauge of any impact on student learning. It may be a warning sign, and we should encourage parents to look for signs of potential learning difficulties, but the early birth itself does not have a direct link to any specific condition. The article highlights a few “success” stories, one of a girl born at 25 weeks and weighing only eleven ounces who is graduating with honors and is a star athlete and musician in school. However, doctors caution that parents need to understand the realities and potential difficulties ahead and not just hope for the best or rely on the success stories. This is a good lesson for all exceptionalities, that often the truth may be difficult or uncomfortable, but there is help available and when dealing with medical conditions it is important to seek professional help.

Aaron Seligman