The number of prematurely born children has increased recently. Although the modern medicine and technologies enable the survival and further development of the babies, the chance of long-term difficulties is rather high. The preterm born infants may face serious health problems even as adults. This child development research paper examines the similar traits of prematurely born children. Among the most common health issues of preemies are higher blood pressure, vulnerability to external stimuli, and worse motor performance and cognitive activity. They also frequently demonstrate the lack of ability for concentration, difficulties in learning languages, and might have poor academic performance and problems in social life.
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Similar Traits of Prematurely Born Children
Nine months is the term, necessary for the child to develop his or her organs and prepare for the life in the real world. However, because of various factors, this time can vary, and the child can be born much earlier. From the superficial viewpoint the issue does not look terrifying, but in fact, the preterm birth affects the life of the person, causing a number of physical and psychological problems. In most of the cases, the preterm born child does not have enough weight and height, which can lead to many physical, mental, and social difficulties. The preterm-born child needs special care and supervision since the preterm birth has an impact on every part of the human’s body and frequently requires urgent intervention. In the major part of cases preterm-born children have similar problems, including such health issues as high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases, various mental disorders, hearing and visual impairments, respiratory diseases, learning difficulties, and lack of social skills.
Last years demonstrate the increase in the number of preterm born children all over the world. The research made by World Health Organization reveals the picture of the global childbirth and provides significant pieces of advice that ensure the safety of preterm babies. According to the Organisation, every tenth child is born preterm. Many of these children face various health problems during the whole life, and more than a million of them die (WHO 1). Furthermore, this data aggravates with the flow of time, and nowadays the humanity is characterized by the higher number of premature births than many decades ago. The data varies depending on the level of the country’s advancement. The number of premature births is higher in developing countries than in developed ones, but the patterns of future health problems in preterm-born children are frequently similar.
Premature births cause various physical issues and affect the development of the whole body. First of all, the child born preterm suffers from the higher blood pressure. Even though preterm born babies have a low blood pressure, its level increases with age (Shah et al. 364). Researchers demonstrate that the frequency of hypertension in preterm born children is higher than in full-term babies, which causes a number of further health problems, in particular, cardiovascular diseases (Shah et al. 364). Ultimately, the blood system is affected by the phenomenon of preterm birth and requires high attention to the possible ways of its prevention.
Besides, preterm children are much more vulnerable to external stimuli and have a higher risk of a number of serious diseases that are frequently incurable. Cerebral paralysis, vision and hearing problems, and various mental disorders are outcomes of the preterm birth (Kodjebacheva and Sabo e50). Prematurely born children are more likely to lost hearing or obtain white matter brain damage, which leads to the number of problems than those, who were not born preterm (Kodjebacheva and Sabo e51). Although in most of the cases these health problems in preterm-born children are not likely to be treated, they can be prevented through attentive health examining during the first years of the child’s life.
Children born preterm require the continuum of care and individual support, which can help to prevent various severe illnesses. However, most of the children from the target group have told that their parents are unemployed, poor or possess a number of harmful habits, which make the child’s development more challenging and encourage appearing of new health problems (Kodjebacheva and Sabo e51). In this way, for example, smoking performed by parents increases the possibility to have a preterm birth and, at the same time, creates a beneficial atmosphere for the development of respiratory diseases in the early age (WHO 40). Thus, preterm-born children in most of the cases have not only health problems as a common feature, but they frequently grow up in the nearly the same family environment.
However, a preterm birth does not always apparently affect the child. Frequently its effect is hidden and reveals in problems with different forms of performance. The research by Maggi et al. has demonstrated that prematurely born children show worse motor performance and cognitive activity than their full-term born peers (380). The article also highlights that many of preterm born children have difficulties in learning and have poor academic performance even though they attend regular schools and do not have any apparent mental health issues (Maggi et al. 378). Ultimately, outcomes of preterm birth are revealed not only in high mortality and visible health problems, but the phenomenon can also affect the speed of child’s development and cause developmental difficulties.
Challenges in the way preterm children perceive and absorb new information can be caused by the lack of attention and the worse memory than their full-term born peers possess. Vieira and Linhares state that specific studies have demonstrated that prematurely born children usually have lack of ability for concentration (288). Furthermore, the capacity of children born preterm to keep new information in memory, to recall it when necessary and to apply according to the particular situation is lower than of children born full-term (Vieira and Linhares 289). Thus, the lack of concentration and incapability to retain the same amount of new information the full-born children can do can create the risk of developmental delay in preterm-born babies.
Another problem with which children born preterm are faced is difficulties in learning languages. The study by Ribeiro et al. demonstrate that prematurely born children have challenges with articulation (2). In addition, they are less likely to perform a high level of writing or reading skills (Ribeiro et al. 2). However, if the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is easy to be detected from the infancy, language learning problems are the ones that occur in later age and cannot be identified from the beginning of child’s life (Ribeiro et al. 2). Thus, on a par with the lack of attention and insufficient memory capacities preterm born children are also faced with problems in language learning process, which affect their abilities to read and to write.
Children born preterm demonstrate the common behavior patterns and many of them have similar problems in social life. These issues are divided into two types, one of which is characterized by the concentration on the personal issues and lack of interaction with the society, which causes anxiety and isolation (Vieira and Linhares 287). The other type of behavioral difficulty is characterized by the aggressiveness towards the environment and lack of social skills (Vieira and Linhares 287).
According to various researches, including the one by Montagna and Nosarti, the problem of the socialization in the early age is caused by the preterm birth and leads to the behavior problems in the adulthood (4). In this period all the emotional and psychological vulnerabilities become the most visible and can aggravate the antisocial behavior, which was demonstrated during childhood (Montagna and Nosarti 4). According to the research, the lack of communication skills affects the person’s self-esteem, his or her emotional state and psychological well-being (Montagna and Nosarti 4). In this way, lack of social interaction or its low quality is likely to cause psychological problems and exacerbate the personal isolation from the outside world, which can be extremely dangerous for the mental health of the individual.
In conclusion, the issue of preterm births is becoming more widespread lately and can be explained by the changes in the contemporary world. The phenomenon of prematurely born children is dangerous since, besides the high child mortality, it causes a vast number of health problems, including physical and mental ones such as cardiovascular diseases, psychological disorders, hearing and visual difficulties, respiratory diseases. In addition, the researches demonstrate that preterm born children are more likely to feel difficulties in the studying process, which is explained by the lack of attention and the drop in the capacity to remember new information. The difficulties in the learning process affect child’s skills of writing and reading. Besides, there is a high risk to have insufficient social life because of the lack of communication skills in children born preterm, which affects their further life. Finally, studies show that preterm born children are likely either to become excessively private and to isolate from any social links or to manifest aggression towards others and become completely antisocial.
Born Too Soon: The Global Action Report On Preterm Birth. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2012.
Kodjebacheva, Gergana D., and Tina Sabo. “Influence Of Premature Birth On The Health Conditions, Receipt Of Special Education And Sport Participation Of Children Aged 6–17 Years In The USA.” Journal Of Public Health, vol 38, no. 2, 2015, pp. e47-e54. Oxford University Press (OUP), doi:10.1093/pubmed/fdv098.
Maggi, Eliane F. et al. “Preterm Children Have Unfavorable Motor, Cognitive, And Functional Performance When Compared To Term Children Of Preschool Age.” Jornal De Pediatria (Versão Em Português), vol 90, no. 4, 2014, pp. 377-383. Elsevier BV, doi:10.1016/j.jpedp.2013.10.004.
Montagna, Anita, and Chiara Nosarti. “Socio-Emotional Development Following Very Preterm Birth: Pathways To Psychopathology.” Frontiers In Psychology, vol 7, 2016, Frontiers Media SA, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00080.
Ribeiro, Luisa A et al. “Attention Problems And Language Development In Preterm Low-Birth-Weight Children: Cross-Lagged Relations From 18 To 36 Months.” BMC Pediatrics, vol 11, no. 1, 2011, Springer Nature, doi:10.1186/1471-2431-11-59.
Shah, Ankur B. et al. “Characteristics Of Systemic Hypertension In Preterm Children.” The Journal Of Clinical Hypertension, vol 17, no. 5, 2015, pp. 364-370. Wiley-Blackwell, doi:10.1111/jch.12528.
Vieira, Martina Estevam Brom, and Maria Beatriz Martins Linhares. “Developmental Outcomes And Quality Of Life In Children Born Preterm At Preschool- And School-Age.” Jornal De Pediatria, vol 87, no. 4, 2011, pp. 281-291. Jornal De Pediatria, doi:10.2223/jped.2096.