Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Not-so-early babies and special needs

Babies born just a week prematurely could be at a slightly greater risk of autism and learning disabilities. Researchers from Glasgow University analysed the birth history of more than 400,000 school children and found that those born between 37 and 39 weeks had a 5.1% chance of developing special educational needs compared to 4% for those born at 40 weeks. Of the 400,000 children studied 18,000 were classified as having special needs including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, dyslexia, deafness and poor vision. The research is significant as most elective caesarean sections - an operation carried out more and more frequently - are performed at 39 weeks.

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