Research related to the long term effects of preterm birth is itself in the early stages of development. I have often heard that preemies have a higher incidence of conditions such as dyslexia and other learning disorders, ADD/ADHD, and autism. I am dyslexic but then so are all of the non-preemie women in my immediate family!
The Center of Disease Control (2016) reports 1 in 9 babies in the USA are born preterm (before 37 weeks gestation). 1% of these preemies are micro-preemies (born 27 weeks gestation or earlier). One quarter of all preterm infants experience severe disability such as cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, autism, blindness, or deafness according to Iris Lesser, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the School-age Unit (SAU) at Einstein’s Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation. Iris Lesser reports that another 1/3 of preterm babies will develop less severe neurodevelopmental and/or neurobehavioral disorders including learning disabilities such as dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, and other conditions that also occur in full term infants.
Current research supports the fact that the development of learning disabilities, autism, and ADD/ADHD, etc. is multifactorial. Many theories exist, and research progresses in numerous directions. From a neurolinguistic perspective one might question whether some people are learning “disabled” or are we, as a society, teaching “disabled”? Even so, there are beneficial aspects of so called learning disabilities such as dyslexia. Many famously intelligent people throughout history such as Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Richard Branson, Winston Churchill, John Kennedy, Pablo Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci, Steven Hawkings, and Steven Spielberg are/were reported to be dyslexic.
Similarly, numerous famous people diagnosed with ADD/ADHD have demonstrated the positive aspects associated with ADHD. Consider the accomplishments of David Blaine, Richard Branson, Ryan Gosling, Adam Levine, and Channing Tatum. An article entitled “Benefits (Yes Benefits!) of Having ADD/ADHD” published by Hallowell New York City states “People with ADD tend to have many creative talents (usually underdeveloped until the diagnosis is made) and a highly original, out-of-the-box way of thinking. As highly intuitive people with a special “feel” for life, they can possess an almost “sixth sense” that lets them see straight to the heart of a matter instead of having to think it through methodically. Since impulsivity is one of the core symptoms of ADD, it stands to reason that people with ADD are more creative than their non-ADD counterparts”.
And lastly, a current Science Daily (03/22/16) article entitled “Noise disrupts the tactile skills of premature babies” presents research related to the effects of noise, light and other stimuli of the NICU environment on the underdeveloped brain of the NICU preemie. If this subject interests you, check this out:
Warriors: Regarding the long term effects of preterm birth, do you, like me, have more questions than answers? The Empty Bowl, the space inviting pure presence: perhaps therein lies the path of knowing…
–http://www.einstein.yu.edu/features/stories/944/the-ongoing-challenges-of-prematurity-tackling-learning-and-developmental-disabilities/. 14 Oct. 2013. Web. <http://www.einstein.yu.edu/features/stories/944/the-ongoing-challenges-of-prematurity-tackling-learning-and-developmental-disabilities/>.
-Benefits Yes Benefits of Having ADD/ADHD.” 2013. Web. <http://www.hallowellnyc.com/HallowellNYC/LivingwithADD/BenefitsYesBenefitsofHavingADDA/index.cfm>