The impact of preterm birth on participation in childhood occupation
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UNLABELLED: Outcome studies of premature babies have focused their assessments predominately on neurodevelopmental impairments without relating these deficits to the impact they have on a child's everyday life. This study aims to determine whether very 'preterm birth alone' impacts on a child's ability to participate in and carry out childhood activities. Forty-four former premature infants between 6 months and 5 years 6 months, born in Galway University Hospital, Ireland, without physical or intellectual disability, were compared with 51 age-matched term-born infants. Study infants had an average gestation of 29 weeks and birth weight of 1,145 g. Functional skills were assessed using the Adaptive Behavior Assessment Scale-II and the Assessment of Preschool Children's Participation. Premature infants had significantly lower mean scores in overall adaptive behaviour compared to term infants, regardless of whether chronological (difference = 13.6, 95% (CI) = [8.2, 19.1]) or corrected (difference = 6.6, 95% CI = [1.4, 11.8]) age was used. Premature infants had lower mean scores in conceptual, social and practical skills, but no difference was found between the groups in intensity or diversity of participation. CONCLUSION: Premature infants had significantly lower scores in adaptive behaviour than term infants. This measurable effect of preterm birth on 'childhood occupations' merits further investigation.
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