When children are born premature, they are more likely to end up with some type of behavioural problem. According to Dr. Kristie McNealy, babies who are born at or before 25 weeks of gestation, or around six months after conception, have a 19.4 per cent chance of ending up with behavioural problems as opposed to the 3.4 per cent of children who are not premature. She points out that a boy born premature is also more likely to have problems than a girl.
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One of the potential problems a boy who is born premature might have is aggression. He might act out by kicking or hitting while he is young or otherwise try intimidating others in his age group or even act-out aggressively to parents and teachers. The boys who are born premature are more likely than girls to act out with anger and aggression.
Premature boys have a high rate of hyperactive behaviour. Depending on the boy, it might come with attention problems or it might be limited to a hyper nature instead. According to the website Science Daily, a child born prematurely has around a 30 per cent chance of becoming hyperactive in some manner and it is more common for boys than girls.
A wide range of potential attention problems arise from premature birth and range from simple ADD to ADHD or a lower attention span that does not quite fall under either ADD or ADHD. Premature birth of a boy child raises his risk of attention problems from around 7 per cent to 33.3 per cent. This means that premature boys have a 1/3 chance of displaying some kind of attention problem.
Variation in Premature Babies
The risk of behavioural problems in boys born prematurely lessens as the baby gets closer to the nine month mark. The babies born around six months have the highest risk. After 25 weeks of gestation, the baby's brain, lungs and internal organs rapidly mature and the risk of behaviour problems drops dramatically. The most critical time for increased risk of behavioural problems is between the 24 week and 32 week premature birth, according to the website Child Encyclopedia. Any baby born after the eight month mark has the same likelihood as babies born at nine months for behavioural problems because the brain has developed enough to minimise the risks.
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- Kristie McNealy: Behavioral Problems in Extremely Premature Babies at School Age; Dr. Kristie McNealy
- Science Daily: Scientists Confirm Link Between Premature Birth and Later Learning, Behavioral Problems
- Science Daily: Premature Children Four Times More Likely to have Behavioral Problems
- Child Encyclopedia: Prematurity
- Psych Central: Premature Children at Risk for Behavioral Problems