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Premature babies

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Morrisonker | 19:46 Sun 19th Jun 2005 | Body & Soul
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I don't know why I started wondering about this, but I did, wonder if anyone can shed some light on it for me:

If a baby is born premature by a few months does it stay in a baby like state for longer (ie; reliant on parents, unable to walk, eat solids etc) or does it progress at teh same rate as a baby who was born after a full term?  I have no idea about the timing of such things, so please don't have a go at me if I'm getting the time frame wrong, but say a 'normal' baby starts eating solids at 6 months, would a baby born 3 months premature start eating soilds at 9 months?

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It is a bit of both, usually.  EG if a baby is born 2 months early, then most likely when they are 2 months old they will be weighing around a decent birth weight, probably a little higher.  They will be delayed in most things they do, however the delay will reduce as they grow up.  For example they will probably be later sitting, standing, cutting teeth etc compared to their peers, but not necessarily by 2 months.  Plus of course babies do things at such different rates it is hard to say!  They will probably also be noticeably smaller than their peers for at least a couple of years.  Obviously as they grow older the difference gets less: for example, a 6 month old is very different physically and developmentally to a 4 month old, but a 5 yr 2 month old is not so different to a 5 yr old.
Just wanted to add: my above comments would apply to a baby who was not damaged by their prematurity.  Of course many premature babies experience problems which delay them further than that just caused purely by them being born early.  The problems associated with prematurity are manifold and could delay them by months or even years as they get older, depending on what they are.
my little boy was 3 and a half months early and started on solids at 5 months old and progressed at a normal rate until he got a cyst on his brain, he now has cerebral palsy caused by cysts from a traumatic birth, otherwise he would have carried on at the same rate.  my friends little girl who was born at the same gestation, also progressed normally, she has no problems relating to her prematurity and developed at the same rate as her friends.
My little boy was born 10 weeks early. He progressed normally from his birth date, if not a little ahead. His teething was very early, but I think this could well be due to the many supplements that prem babies are given. Problems can be manifold, but are not inevitable, it depends on the individual.

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