Top 10 Long-Term Effects of Premature Birth February 28, 2024.

long-term effects of premature birth

The March of Dimes reports that about 1 in 10 babies born in America is born premature, putting thousands of infants at risk of severe health complications.

Below, we explore 10 common long-term effects of premature birth and how an Ohio birth injury lawyer helps families who are affected by the consequences of premature delivery.

10 Common Long-Term Effects of Premature Birth 

1. Cognitive Deficits

Research from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) suggests that children born before 32 weeks gestation are more likely to suffer problems with higher cognitive functioning, like planning, problem solving, and multitasking.

Visual memory was also found to be affected in preterm children, in addition to a slower rate of brain waves most commonly associated with problems like Parkinson's disease and schizophrenia.

2. Lung Problems

The Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine has extensive data on the rates and risks of premature birth. The Clinic's studies found that preterm birth was associated with a higher rate of respiratory problems, regardless of whether infants receive neonatal intensive care.

3. Heart Problems

The Cleveland Clinic also found that premature birth was associated with a 53% increase in the risk of ischemic heart disease, as well as an overall higher risk of hypertension. People who were born before 28 weeks gestation were found to be 17 times more likely to experience heart failure than people born at 37 weeks gestation or after.

Furthermore, adults who were preterm show early signs of heart problems, most notably a reduced cardiac response to exercise and physical activity.

4. Kidney Problems

A study published in the British Medical Journal determined that premature babies were twice as likely as full-term infants to suffer kidney disease. Plus, the earlier an infant is born, the higher the risk is. Researchers noted that when birth takes place prior to 28 weeks, babies are three times as likely to develop kidney disease.

5. Diabetes

Data from the Cleveland Clinic study also indicates that premature birth impacts the endocrine system and the risk of developing type 1 or type 2 diabetes is much higher for these people than those born on time.

In fact, adults aged 18 to 43 were 1.2 times more likely to be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and 1.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than young to middle-age adults whose births were on time.

6. Cerebral Palsy 

The Journal of Child Neurology reports that out of 60,000 infants with low birth weight, almost 10% will be diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Up to 50% will experience severe behavioral, social, and cognitive dysfunction, which usually is severe enough to have a negative impact on educational success.

Cerebral palsy is commonly associated with other health conditions like scoliosis, muscle spasms, bone deformities, and hip dysplasia. Additionally, children with cerebral palsy often suffer from intellectual disabilities, developmental disorders, seizures, malnutrition, incontinence, and hearing impairments according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

7. Low Educational Performance

The Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University found that premature birth could be linked to decreased educational performance. Subjects who were studied consistently scored lower in English, language arts, and mathematics, and also had higher rates of misconduct and absenteeism.

8. Vision Problems

Premature babies are also at a higher risk of vision problems as children and later in life, according to the International Centre for Eye Health. Not only are these individuals more susceptible to refractive errors like nearsightedness and astigmatism, they also experience higher rates of serious eye conditions like retinopathy and blindness.

9. Mental Health Disorders

The Official Journal of the World Psychiatric Association reports that preterm children are at a higher risk of psychiatric conditions like Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Parents are also mentally affected by early birth, with 40% of preemie parents experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression following the delivery of their infants.

10. Higher Early Mortality Rates

In a study published by the Early Human Development Journal, early to middle-age adults who were born prematurely have a 30% to 50% higher overall mortality rate than individuals in the same age group who were born full-term.

Was Your Child Injured at Birth?

If you are the parent of an infant who suffered a birth injury, your family may be able to recover financial compensation for the long-term effects of premature birth. Contact a qualified Ohio birth injury lawyer at The Mellino Law Firm today by calling (440) 333-3800.