Premature birth and sensory impairments in children
The length of a typical pregnancy varies between about 37 and 42 weeks. The World Health Organization defines prematurity (preterm) as babies born before 37 weeks. In 2010, a little above seven per cent of babies in England and Wales were born before 37 weeks.
Simply labelling a baby as premature is of limited use and attention should instead be paid to how premature the baby is. Generally the earlier a baby is born the higher the risk of health problems. The preterm baby will typically have a lower birth weight than babies born at full term.
One thirty year study in Canada found that by the age of three years old just over three per cent of children born at 28 weeks or less and with a birth weight of less than 1250g (2lb12oz) had some level of permanent hearing loss. Just under two per cent had a severe or profound hearing loss.
Some children have hearing or vision impairments, or both, as a result of their prematurity.
Sense Children’s Specialist Services
Sense's Children's Specialist Services are a team of specialist advisory teachers, children’s therapists, and Children and Family Support Workers.
The team provides advice and information to multi-sensory-impaired children and young people, to their families or carers, and to the professionals who work with them. They also provide support in the home, at school or at their centres of excellence.
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Reviewed: May 2015
Review due: May 2017
First published: Wednesday 21 August 2013
Updated: Tuesday 22 December 2015