Children's Health and Wellness

Know How Your Preemie Will Grow

An infant is considered premature if born before 37 weeks.

What should you expect during your child's development?

Premature babies may grow at a slower rate than full-term babies, but often catch up in height and weight by two years of age. But premature babies are more likely to have trouble with speech, motor skills, hearing or vision.

Here are some suggestions:

  • See your child's doctor regularly. Premature babies may not feed as well, so the pediatrician will check their weight gain and head circumference to see that they're growing properly.

  • Premature babies are at a greater risk for infections because their immune systems aren't completely developed. Vaccines should be started on schedule based on the child's chronological age. Many premature infants are at greater risk for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and may benefit from receiving RSV antibody injections to protect them from this serious viral infection.

  • Influenza can be more dangerous in premature babies than full-term ones. Family members should consider getting a flu shot during flu season to prevent getting the flu and passing it on to the baby. Premature infants can also receive the flu shot if they are at least six months old.

  • Keep it clean. Family members and caregivers should wash their hands often to head off coughs, colds, and other contagious ailments.

  • Seek help if needed. Community agencies can help children with developmental delays. Ask your child's doctor or your local school district.

  • Heredity, home life, and school also affect your child's development. A healthy, active environment can help your little one flourish.

Online Source: American Academy of Family Physicians
Online Source: American Academy of Pediatrics
Online Source: Patient Information: When a baby is born premature (The Basics); Growth Management in Preterm Infants, UpToDate
Author: Dailey, Kathleen
Online Editor: Geller, Arlene
Online Medical Reviewer: Moloney Johns, Amanda, PA-C, MPAS, BBA
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 5/26/2013
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