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    Thursday, February 09, 2006

    Better News for the Premature: Very premature babies catch up to their peers by adulthood: "

    Many very premature infants appear to play catch-up by early adulthood, reaching levels of education and employment that are similar to those of normal-weight children, a study found.

    The mostly reassuring results are the latest installment from Canadian researchers studying the development of 166 premature babies born in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The babies weighed 2 pounds (0.91 kilograms) or less. The infants have been tracked from their birth in central-west Ontario into childhood and beyond.

    ....More than 80 percent of youngsters in both the preemie and normal-weight groups graduated from high school; about a third of each group were pursuing college or other postsecondary education when the study was written. Nearly half the preemies and only slightly more of their peers had permanent jobs.

    More of preemies were unemployed and not in school in early adulthood -- 39 versus 20. Those results are explained by mental and/or physical disabilities related to their premature births, the researchers said. Forty of the preemies had a disability, including cerebral palsy, blindness, mental impairment and autism.

    Still, roughly equal numbers in both groups lived independently or were married or living with a partner.

    'Against our expectations and many odds, a significant majority of extremely low-birthweight young adults have overcome earlier difficulties to become functional members of society,' said the researchers, led by Dr. Saroj Saigal at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

    The article suggests they did OK because they were born in Canada where they have government-sponsored healthcare. One prior study, done in Cleveland, where the majority of the preemies were from poor, inner city single-parent families, suggested they don't do well. However, does anyone doubt there would also be a difference in adult ambitions between full term babies born to poor inner city single-parent families and full term babies born to a wide spectrum of Canadians (or for that matter, a wider spectrum of Americans?).

    posted by Sydney on 2/09/2006 09:11:00 AM 1 comments


    I agree with your last statement. Without controlling for environment, this study doesn't have much meaning, althoug it is encouraging. If they'd done a case controlled study their results would be more reliable.

    People that should know about statistics (like doctors and science writers) are pretty clueless sometimes. Check out todays headline from CNN: "US Deaths from Cancer Fall for the First Time." As if cancer prevention & treatments have all been failures to this point! No mention of the fact that the average lifespan has doubled in the last century and older people get more cancer, for Pete's sake- except a cryptic blurb at the end about baby boomers getting older. Huh?

    By Anonymous Dani, at 4:08 PM  

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