Timing of Diagnoses of Prematurity Impacts

Brief overview of ages when common diagnoses related to prematurity are made.

By Helen Harrison

The most severe diagnoses are usually evident by ages 2 to 4 (Cerebral Palsy, major retardation, blindness, deafness). The less severe diagnoses (low or mildly retarded IQ, learning and behavior problems, mild visual and hearing problems and problems with hearing and visual processing) are not always known till age 8 to 11 or even later. There are even some problems that may not show up till late adolescence or adulthood -- eg. seizures, or late loss of vision from ROP.

Just take one day at a time. Your child needs your love and support with or without a diagnosis and whether or not neonatology is improving. That's what counts. Enjoy the time you have together now and in the future. Being realistic doesn't mean giving into despair. It is difficult, at first, developing the emotional flexibility to accept whatever the future may bring, but it becomes easier with time and with the support of others who have "been there" too.

Helen Harrison was the well known author of The Premature Baby Book, for many years referred to as the "Bible of Prematurity" by older preemie parents. These observations are excerpted with permission from posts to the Preemie-child support group.