There are countless negative side effects associated with preterm birth. Essentially, babies born prematurely have not finished fully developing, and problems can be chronic. Heart disease and diabetes have both been associated with preterm birth. While the birth itself is causing the problems, the problems can last the entire duration of the child’s life. If you have a baby before its full term of gestation, you are essentially halting its development and bringing it into the world before its body has fully formed. One of the main concerns about preterm delivery is language difficulty throughout life. Since the language section of the brain is one of the largest and most complex, it needs a lot of time to develop fully.

Recently, a study was conducted to find out whether or not language development is in fact affected by preterm delivery. The results did show that there was an association between preterm delivery and difficulties with speech development. However this did not mean that language was affected necessarily. Overall, the study showed that children born preterm as infants had many learning problems, and they are not restricted to speech. Many aspects of brain development are affected. While it’s true that preterm birth affects the ability learn to speak, speech is not the only function inhibited. Speech development should not be considered one of the major effects of preterm birth, but it should rather be considered one of the many neurological development issues associated with premature delivery.

To prevent delivering your baby preterm, there are a few things you can do. First of all, try reducing stress in your life. Obviously, you cannot simply remove the problems with your life that stress you out, but you can definitely take steps to deal with them better. Yoga and low-impact kickboxing are both excellent ways to deal with stress during pregnancy. Additionally, smoking often causes babies to be delivered preterm. If you’re a smoker and you’re thinking of becoming pregnant, quit now. The consequences of preterm delivery are far worse than the effects of giving up cigarettes.

Studies show that language is in fact very much affected by preterm delivery. However, it should be considered that, while these results are accurate, they fail to mention the thousands of other developmental problems a child born preterm will have. Speak with your healthcare provider about delaying delivery in any way possible, and you’ll be better off.

Source: Dieter Wolke et al: Specific Language Difficulties and School Achievement in Children Born at 25 Weeks Gestation or Less. The Journal of Pediatrics Volume 152 Issue 2 March 2008

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