Every year, more than 330,000 American children are born prematurely. As you probably know, we have two in our family. When Abby and Grace were born eight weeks early, they each weighed a little more than 4 pounds and spent four weeks in the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) at the hospital. A trying time, to be sure, but they came through with flying colors.
They’re almost two now, but I find that I’m still worrying just as much now as I did during those first few weeks at the hospital. I worry about their health and development and how their premie status might affect the rest of their lives. It seems odd sometimes, since they seem just as healthy as any other toddlers. But research shows I have cause to worry, and new reasons for hope.
A new study out today in the journal Pediatrics shows that children born prematurely can benefit greatly from intensive early education. If these kids get extra attention in the first three years of life, they show higher math and reading scores and fewer behavorial problems than similar children who didn’t get the educational boost.
On a related note, the March of Dimes is working to prevent premature births. You can support their efforts by joining WalkAmerica. Last year, walkers raised more than $250,000 toward the cause. Round up everyone you know and sign them up. The event kicks off in a few weeks.
[Visit the March of Dimes website]