When a mother is expecting a child, the due date is the most anticipated day. However, sometimes babies come a little earlier than expected. Babies born before 37 weeks are considered premature, and many parents wonder if their child will develop at the same pace as babies who were born at full term. In this article, we will explore the question, “Do babies born at 36 weeks develop slower?”
What Does it Mean to be Born at 36 Weeks?
A full-term pregnancy lasts around 40 weeks, but babies born at 36 weeks are considered late preterm. Late preterm babies are born between 34 and 36 weeks of gestation. At 36 weeks, a baby’s organs are almost fully developed, but they may need extra support to establish regular breathing and body temperature.
Do Late Preterm Babies Develop Slower Than Full-Term Babies?
Studies have shown that late preterm babies may experience developmental delays in their first few years of life. These delays can range from mild to severe and may affect a child’s speech, motor skills, and cognitive development. However, the extent of developmental delays varies from child to child, and many late preterm babies catch up to their full-term peers by the time they reach school age.
Factors That Affect a Late Preterm Baby’s Development
Several factors can influence a late preterm baby’s development, including:
Late preterm babies often weigh less than full-term babies, which can affect their development. Low birth weight is a risk factor for developmental delays, and babies who weigh less than 3 pounds, 5 ounces at birth are at a higher risk for long-term health problems.
Late preterm babies may have difficulty feeding, which can lead to poor growth and development. These babies may need extra support to establish breastfeeding or may require special formula to meet their nutritional needs.
Late preterm babies may be at risk for medical complications, such as respiratory distress syndrome, jaundice, and infections. These complications can affect a baby’s development and may require hospitalization.
Environmental factors, such as poverty, lack of access to healthcare, and exposure to toxins, can also affect a late preterm baby’s development.
How Can Parents Support Their Late Preterm Baby’s Development?
Parents can play a significant role in supporting their late preterm baby’s development. Here are some tips for promoting healthy development:
Ensure Proper Nutrition
Late preterm babies may require special formula to meet their nutritional needs. Parents can work with their pediatrician or lactation consultant to establish breastfeeding or find the right formula for their baby.
Provide Plenty of Skin-to-Skin Contact
Skin-to-skin contact, also known as kangaroo care, can help regulate a baby’s body temperature and promote bonding between parent and child. This practice has been shown to improve outcomes for late preterm babies.
Stay Up-to-Date on Vaccinations
Late preterm babies may be at a higher risk for infections, so it’s essential to stay up-to-date on vaccinations. Parents should speak with their pediatrician about which vaccines their baby needs and when they should receive them.
Attend Regular Check-Ups
Regular check-ups with a pediatrician can help identify any developmental delays early on. Parents should attend all scheduled appointments and speak with their pediatrician if they have any concerns about their child’s development.
Babies born at 36 weeks are considered late preterm and may experience developmental delays in their first few years of life. However, the extent of these delays varies from child to child, and many late preterm babies catch up to their full-term peers by the time they reach school age. Parents can play a significant role in promoting healthy development by ensuring proper nutrition, providing skin-to-skin contact, staying up-to-date on vaccinations, and attending regular check-ups with a pediatrician.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are late preterm babies at risk for long-term health problems?
Late preterm babies are at a higher risk for long-term health problems than full-term babies, particularly if they have a low birth weight or experience medical complications.
2. Can late preterm babies breastfeed?
Yes, many late preterm babies can breastfeed, but they may need extra support to establish breastfeeding. Lactation consultants can work with parents to develop a plan that meets their baby’s specific needs.
3. Will my late preterm baby catch up to his or her full-term peers?
Many late preterm babies catch up to their full-term peers by the time they reach school age. However, some children may experience lasting developmental delays.
4. How often should late preterm babies see a pediatrician?
Late preterm babies should see a pediatrician for regular check-ups, just like full-term babies. These appointments may be more frequent in the first few months of life.
5. What can parents do to support their late preterm baby’s development?
Parents can support their late preterm baby’s development by ensuring proper nutrition, providing skin-to-skin contact, staying up-to-date on vaccinations, and attending regular check-ups with a pediatrician.
Related video of Do Babies Born At 36 Weeks Develop Slower?