1. ITV Report

Premature babies more likely to struggle at school, study finds

Premature babies are more likely to struggle at school, a study has found. Credit: PA

Babies born prematurely are more likely to struggle at school but delaying school entry may not be the answer, a study has found.

The study, led by Professor Dieter Wolke at the University of Warwick, found that children born before 34 weeks gestation are more likely to have cognitive problems and learning difficulties compared to children born at term.

However the report, launched today, suggests that preterm children may benefit from starting school at the normal age, so long as they receive additional support in the classroom.

Dr Samantha Johnson from the University of Leicester’s Department of Health Sciences and The Infant Mortality and Morbidity Studies (TIMMS) group, who helped produce the report, said:

Teachers and educational psychologists receive little formal training about the effects of preterm birth on children’s long term development and learning, and are often not aware of appropriate strategies to support preterm children in the classroom.

– Dr Samantha Johnson, University of Leicester

The study, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, conducted a survey of education professionals’ knowledge and information needs relating to the education of children born preterm.

Professor Wolke added:

Our findings lead us to recommend that all preterm children born before 34 weeks of gestation may benefit from a regular follow-up after discharge from hospital.

Interventions are required around the time of school entry to facilitate preterm children to have an optimal start to their schooling. Delayed school entry is not recommended based on our current evidence, but more research is needed.

– Professor Dieter Wolke, University of Warwick