We know that babies born pre-term might be at risk for developmental problems, but now new research shows that babies born just two weeks early could have problems too. The study published in Pediatrics, “Academic Achievement Varies With Gestational Age Among Children Born at Term,” showed that full-term babies do better on math and reading tests.
Researchers analyzed over 128,000 babies born between 37 and 41 weeks gestation in New York City in the late 1980s and early 1990s. When the children took their 3rd grade math and reading tests, researchers found that scores for children born at 37 and 38 weeks were lower than the kids born at 39, 40 or 41 weeks. They found that children born at 37 weeks had a 23 percent increased risk of having a reading impairment and children born at 38 weeks had a 13 percent increased risk, as opposed to those born at 41 weeks. Plus, math scores were lower for these children as well.
Experts believe that because baby’s brain has substantial growth during the last weeks of gestation, an early birth can disrupt that development. Of course, most women can’t control when they give birth, so this shouldn’t freak you out too much. But for women who are electing to have c-sections or inductions (and it’s not an emergency), this new research might make them want to wait a few more weeks.
Do you think full-term babies could be smarter? When was your baby born?