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Monday, March 23rd, 2015
Parents of premature babies worry more about about their child’s development, and this can translate into long-term stress.
According to new research, parents of preterm children (born at least seven weeks early) felt greater stress when their kids began misbehaving later in life than parents of full-term children.
Researchers measured (pre-term and full-term) children’s behaviors and intelligence levels at 7-years-old, and used questionnaires to determine parents’ stress levels. “After accounting for child behavior problems, IQ, gender, and the parents’ coping styles, the study found that parents were more likely to be stressed if their child acted out,” reports Reuters. The stress was especially evident when parents of preemies didn’t discipline their kids, especially if they were girls.
A difference in coping methods was also found — while preterm parents tended to use avoidance, parents of full-term children were more likely to use constructive-problem solving methods. Not surprisingly, the study pointed out that parents who were given support to deal with parenting challenges were less likely be overwhelmed.
The authors did note their uncertainty about whether a child behavior issues caused the stress, or if it was a result of bad behavior. Also according to Reuters, “mothers of children who act out already have higher stress levels and may play and interact with their children less than mothers whose kids behave…Having a preemie with medical complications may just make those interactions worse.”
Mark Linden, the study’s first author, suggests support groups, telephone help lines, or regular visits to the family general practitioner as resources to help parents find the best way to cope. Whatever the cause of parental stress may be, one thing’s for certain: it will likely have a negative effect on children unless addressed right away.
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn
Image: Stressed mother via Shutterstock
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Thursday, February 26th, 2015
Not all births—especially premature births—are created equal. But in early December, a baby boy who was born 26 weeks premature amazed everyone.
The doctors at Maxine Dunitz Children’s Health Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles delivered Silas Johnson via C-section, and—much to their surprise—he was still fully encased in his mother’s amniotic sac. This is called an en caul birth and only happens once in every 80,000 births. This type of birth is so rare because, even in C-sections, “doctors frequently pierce through the sac as they make their incision to remove the baby,” reports Time.
In some cases, an amniotic sac may be intentionally left intact to protect a premature baby during delivery, but the doctors at Cedars-Sinai had not planned for this outcome.
“It was a moment that really did, even though it’s a cliché: we caught our breath. It really felt like a moment of awe,” said William Binder, M.D., who delivered the baby. “This was really a moment that will stick in my memory for some time.” He even took a moment to snap a photo of Johnson perfectly curled up in the fetal position.
A baby born en caul will continue to receive oxygen through the placenta, but only for a short amount of time, so doctors (or a midwife) need to puncture the sac soon after birth.
Johnson is doing well and is set to head home in less than a month.
Check out more real-life birth stories!
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter:@CAITYstjohn
Image: Screenshot of baby Silas courtesy of a CNN video
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Thursday, July 31st, 2014
Babies who are born prematurely are monitored closely to track their development, especially their cognitive development, as they grow. A new study published in The Journal of Pediatrics has found that most of these babies, by the time they are teens, are able to perform in cognitive tests as well as teens who were born at full term. The study found that the family and social environment a child is raised in is far more predictive than their gestational age at birth.
More from ScienceDaily on the study, which was conducted by Australian researchers:
“Every year, 10% of Australian babies are born preterm, and many studies have shown that these children often have cognitive difficulties in childhood,” says one of the lead authors of the study, Dr Julia Pitcher from the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Research Institute.
“This new study has some positive news. We looked at the factors that determine cognitive abilities in early adolescence, and found that whether or not you were born preterm appears to play a relatively minor role. Of significantly more importance is the degree of social disadvantage you experienced in your early life after birth, although genetics is important,” Dr Pitcher says.
The study, conducted by Research Officer Dr Luke Schneider, assessed the cognitive abilities of 145 preterm and term-born young people now aged over 12. He also assessed data on social disadvantage at the time of birth and at the time of the cognitive assessment.
“The results of our study provide further proof that those born at term tend to have better cognitive abilities — such as working memory, brain processing efficiency and general intellectual ability. But the postnatal environment seems to be playing an important role in whether or not a preterm child is able to overcome that initial risk of reduced brain development,” Dr Schneider says.
Image: Preemie, via Shutterstock
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Monday, November 18th, 2013
Boys are slightly more likely than girls to be born prematurely, a new international study on newborn health has found. Additionally, boys don’t tend to fare as well as girls world-wide. More from The Associated Press:
“This is a double whammy for boys,” said Dr. Joy Lawn of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who led the team of researchers. “It’s a pattern that happens all over the world.”
The gender difference isn’t large: About 55 percent of preterm births in 2010 were male, the report found. Nor is it clear exactly why it happens.
The finding comes from a series of international studies being published Friday that examine newborn health and prematurity. About 15 million babies worldwide are born too soon, most of them in Africa and parts of Asia where survival is difficult for fragile newborns. Globally, about 1 million babies die as a direct result of preterm birth and another million die of conditions for which prematurity is an added risk, the researchers calculated.
Friday’s report offers some of the first estimates of how many preemie survivors go on to suffer certain disabilities, and found that where these babies are born, and how early, determines their risk.
Overall, Lawn said about 7 percent of survivors have two of the most burdensome disabilities: neurologic-developmental impairment ranging from learning disabilities to cerebral palsy, and vision loss.
But the biggest risk is to the youngest preemies, those born before 28 weeks gestation. Worldwide, 52 percent of them are estimated to have some degree of neurodevelopmental impairment, the report found.
Moreover, the risk of impairment in middle-income countries is double that of wealthy countries like the U.S.
For example, China is saving more preemies’ lives but at the cost of their vision, Lawn said.
Middle-income countries are missing out on a lesson the U.S. learned the hard way several decades ago, that giving these tiny babies too much oxygen can trigger a potentially blinding condition called retinopathy of prematurity.
“Disability is not something that’s inevitable. It’s preventable,” she said, calling for improved quality of care including eye checks to prevent or reduce vision loss.
The March of Dimes reported this month that 11.5 percent of U.S. births now are preterm. That rate is inching down, thanks mostly to fewer babies being born just a few weeks early as standards for elective deliveries have tightened, but it still is higher than in similar countries.
Image: Newborn baby, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, August 28th, 2013
A review of research on preterm babies reveals that super-early preemies (those born between the 22 and 25 weeks gestation) face significant health risks years later. Compared with full-term babies, these preemies had increased risk of neurological problems at 4 to 8 years of age. Care of premature infants continues to improve, but this review points to the importance of trying to keep babies in the womb as long as possible, TIME.com reports.
More from TIME.com:
It’s not the first hint that preemies are at higher risk of health issues for being born before their development was completed. Some recent studies showed, for example, that babies who were born earlier had poorer test scores in reading and math compared with those born full term. A study published in 2011 that analyzed the long-term effects of premature birth on cognitive abilities such as memory and attention span in early adulthood revealed that people who were born extremely premature performed worse on executive function tests and took longer to complete higher-order intellectual tasks. As adults, these individuals also scored an average of 8.4 points lower on IQ assessments compared with people who were born at full term.
The fact that the effects of premature birth last into adulthood is concerning, since they are not only at a disadvantage in some cognitive functions, they even have a reportedly higher risk of death in early adulthood as well. Advancements in care of premature babies have undoubtedly improved, but lessening their health risks is still a task at hand. In 2012, a team of researchers from the University College London Institute for Women’s Health reported that death rates and health problems among extremely preterm babies has remained unchanged for decades.
While the parents of preemies may find this news less-than-reassuring, this research can help children by giving “parents and clinicians a heads-up for what to look out for during development,” TIME.com says.
Image: Premature baby’s foot, via Shutterstock
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