|Vol. 7, No. 3, 2001 Page 7|
Babies born even a few weeks prematurely are at high risk for learning disabilities, according to a new British study. Previous research shows that learning disabilities are strongly linked to delinquent or criminal behavior.
Charlotte Huddy et al. recently studied all children born five to eight weeks prematurely in Oxfordshire during 1990, controlling for other perinatal risk factors. The children's physicians, teachers, and parents rated the children's health, behavior, and educational progress.
Huddy et al. report that of the 117 children for whom they obtained data, 25 percent required classroom support from a non-teaching assistant. In addition, 32 percent had poor writing skills, 31 percent had poor fine motor skills, 29 percent had difficulty with math, and 21 percent had difficulty reading. Nineteen percent, nearly double the number of children in general, were rated as hyperactive.
"It is clear," the researchers say, "that children of school age who were born at 32 to 35 weeks gestation have a very significant risk of educational difficulties."
"Educational and behavioural problems in babies of 32-35 weeks gestation," C. L. J. Huddy, A. Johnson, and P. L. Hope, Archives of Disease in Childhood (Fetal Neonatal Ed.), Vol. 85, July 2001, pp. F23-F28. Address: Charlotte Huddy, Neonatal Unit, John Radcliffe Hospital, Headley Way, Headington, Oxford OX3 9DU, UK.
"Many premature babies do poorly in school, study says," Reuters News Service, June 21, 2001.