Curious Parents

Premature Babies Perform Equally In School

As soon as a child is born, parents begin to worry. Will the baby grow up to be happy, healthy and successful? Parents of premature babies may worry that their early arrival could have some additional hurdles. But a reassuring 2017 study shows that while preemie babies may enter the world in a challenging way, their outlook for academic success is much more optimistic.

Scores That Speak For Themselves

A large-scale study from Northwestern University analyzed 1.3 million premature babies born in Florida from 1992 to 2002. By matching the infants' medical records with their Florida public school records, they found that "babies born at only 23 or 24 weeks were ready for kindergarten on time." In even better news, the researchers discovered that "nearly two percent of them even achieved gifted status in school."

While it's true that babies babies this prematurely often score low on standardized tests, slightly later-term preemies—babies born 25 weeks or later—perform almost equally to infants that were born full-term. And after 28 weeks, the difference is only "negligible." In a press release, lead author Dr. Craig Garfield from Northwestern University claims that most studies on premature babies focus on their medical outcomes, while this one reveals the promising future educational outcomes for children born early.

On The Road To Success

The researchers note that while their data is strong, it doesn't account for these infants' medical issues, nor their biological makeup or support from their families and schools (all factors that could affect their academic performance). Either way, the study reveals that children born prematurely perform "reasonably well on standardized tests through middle school—proving that just because you were born early, doesn't mean you can't excel.

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Written by Curiosity Staff July 3, 2017

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