All infants with birthweights of 2500 grams (5 pounds 8 ounces) or less, or a gestational age of less than 37 completed weeks are considered immature or premature. They are at risk for a number of potential health and developmental problems, including:
- Neurodevelopmental problems (e.g. cerebral palsy, cognitive delay).
- Congenital malformation, hearing and visual deficits, reactive airway disease, growth failure.
Infancy and toddlerhood:
More problems with temperament (e.g., more difficult to soothe, more passive and less socially responsive).
Preschool age and in the early school years:
- Increased activity and intensity, and lack of persistence that can lead to delayed or impaired self-regulation.
- A variety of emotional and behavioural problems, such as anxiety disorders, excessive shyness and withdrawal, social problems, poor adaptive skills and especially attention deficit disorder.
Fortunately there are some promising ways to mitigate some of these outcomes in premature babies.