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Premature infants can suffer effects into adulthood

Last week we talked about some issues parents of premature infants can face when others assume that once the baby is out of the neonatal intensive care unit. But as you may know the follow up care required for a premature infant is often much more extensive than for many other infants.

A new study indicates that some of the effects of premature birth may be longer term. The U.S. study was conducted by researchers from the University of Rhode Island. The researchers found that social and health effects can be long lasting. Fortunately the researchers also say that these effects can be mitigated by the parents if they provide the pre-term infant a nurturing and supportive environment early in life.

The study found specifically, that adults that were born pre-term have higher rates of heart related health problems and often experience more health problems than those who were born full-term. The study looked at 23-year-old adults that were born prematurely and represents one of the longest running studies of premature infants in the United States.

The findings however were not all negative. Researchers found that infants that were born prematurely grow up to be adults that have a "persistent drive to succeed." This makes sense when as infants they may have had to overcome physical adversity to thrive. The study also says that parents that work to be advocates for their children in their academic environment can enhance the academic, physical and social outcomes for their children who were born prematurely.

Source: Health Canal "URI College of Nursing study finds effects of premature birth can reach into adulthood" June 15, 2011

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