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Study explores if children born prematurely do worse in school

The study surveyed 11,695 children who were born between 2000-2001.

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By Alice Clifford via SWNS

Children born prematurely do worse at school throughout their primary years, a new study reveals.

And those born before 32 weeks, or two months premature, can have lower attainment levels at secondary school as well.

The study of English kids recommends that those born prematurely should be assessed for cognitive and language difficulties so that they can be supported at primary school.

Preterm birth, defined as birth before 37 complete weeks of gestation, accounts for approximately 11 percent of births globally.

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, surveyed 11,695 children who were born in England between 2000-2001.

The researchers analyzed the results of around half the children at the end of primary school and around half the children at the end of secondary school.

At the end of primary school, 17.7 percent of premature children had not achieved the expected level in both English and Maths.

Children who were born just under the full term, around 34-38 weeks, also saw a small risk of not achieving their expected academic benchmarks at the end of year six.

At secondary school children born very preterm, before 32 weeks, had a 26 percent elevated risk of not passing five GCSEs.

Dr. Neora Alterman, from Oxford Population Health, UK, and one of the authors of the study, said: “Our study showed that birth at any gestational age earlier than full term was associated with poorer attainment at the end of primary school.

“At the end of compulsory education, these pupils had similar outcomes to their peers, except for pupils born at less than 32 weeks, who remained at risk of low attainment.”

Despite the research, the authors said further studies into children’s performance at secondary school is still needed to confirm these results.

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