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Babies born just a little early at higher risk of emotional problems

Calls for more support for babies born early, as study finds even slight premature birth could affect future behaviour

Posted: 6 December 2011
by Kimberley Smith
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Even slightly premature babies can be at a disadvantage

Babies born even slightly premature – between four and eight weeks – are more likely to suffer from psychological problems, according to a new study.

The new research suggests more intervention is needed to support these babies, before they reach school age.

“Our results demonstrate that moderately premature children are more likely to already have behavioural and emotional problems before they enter school,” explained the authors of the study, from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

“Therefore, moderately premature children could be a potential target group for the prevention of mental health problems, as behaviour and emotional problems in early childhood tend to persist in later childhood and adolescence.”

Consultant Obstetrician Professor Andrew Shennan from baby charity Tommy’s explained that problems relating to slightly premature birth are more common though not as serious as the problems faced by extremely early babies.

Though you cannot guarantee your baby will go to full term, there are some things you can do to give him or her the best chance. These include stopping smoking, avoiding caffeine and alcohol and ensure you have  healthy diet  and regular exercise.

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