It’s always important to keep a careful eye on your premature child’s development. But it’s also worth remembering that there’s a big range of ‘normal’ when it comes to development.
Also, corrected age can be very useful if you’re worried about your child’s development. For example, if your child is one year old but was born three months early, her corrected age is only nine months. That means you’re best to compare her to babies aged nine months, rather than one year.
Children learn language at different rates. The majority of premature babies develop normal language, but their language development is often, but not always, delayed.
Smaller and more premature babies are at greater risk than late preterm babies. Compared with full-term children, on average very premature school children have more trouble saying things and understanding what is said to them. Late preterm children can also have language delays.
But this doesn’t mean that every child who was born early will have a language problem. Some will, but others will have excellent language development.
Premature babies are more likely to have dental problems than full-term babies
- Abnormal tooth enamel (the white outer covering of a tooth): the tooth might look grey or brownish, or have an uneven surface. Cavities can form more easily in teeth with poor enamel. Brushing teeth regularly helps. If your child doesn’t like having things put in his mouth, an occupational therapist or speech therapist can help.
- Late teeth: premature babies’ teeth often come a few months later than full-term children’s teeth, but they’ll still come in the usual order.
- A high arch or groove in the roof of the mouth: this can have an impact on speech and bite. Most children adapt to the shape of the roof of their mouth, but others might need braces later.
Children who were born prematurely are more likely to have hearing impairment than full-term children. But this is still only about 2-6% of premature babies, and it’s more common in very preterm babies.
Some premature babies don’t like having things put in their mouths and can have trouble feeding. Research also shows that premature babies can have a lower pain threshold than full-term babies.
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This article was written by our Speech Pathologist Ashleigh Fattah who is a Speech Pathology Australia member. If you have speech pathology related questions, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with simple and effective therapy targeted to your concerns.
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