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Late Preterm Birth Does Not Increase Risk of Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Learning Disabilities (LD)

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Babies who are born early are at higher risk for a variety of medical problems. Infants born after 34 weeks in the womb are sometimes referred to as “late preterm” infants. Some studies have suggested that late preterm infants are more likely to have ADHD or LD, but study results have been inconsistent. Understanding whether a late preterm birth increases the risk of ADHD or LD would help doctors know which children should be closely monitored for these conditions early in life.

Previous studies have looked at children who were referred by a doctor and followed them only until early school age. To further investigate the risk of ADHD and LD in late preterm versus full-term infants, scientists funded by the Child Development and Behavior Branch obtained data on children from full-term (defined as those born at or after 37 weeks in the womb) and late preterm births (defined as those born between 34 weeks and 37 weeks in the womb) and followed them until they were 19 years old.

The researchers found that the risk of ADHD and LD in children born late preterm was the same as that in children born full-term, indicating that healthy late preterm children may not need intensive follow-up for brain development (PMID: 23979091).

Last Updated Date: 06/18/2014
Last Reviewed Date: 06/18/2014
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