Solving problems for premature babies | Action Medical Research

Touching Lives - March 2011

Solving problems for premature babies

Over 10,000 babies are born very prematurely – more than eight weeks early – each year in the UK. These children are much more likely to have special educational needs compared with those born at full term. This not only affects academic achievement but employment potential. Problems with mathematics are especially common and considered more of a hindrance in adulthood than poor reading skills.

With your help, Action Medical Research is funding a two-year project to learn more about the origins and types of maths difficulties in children who were born very prematurely. Experienced psychologists and doctors are studying approximately 160 children aged eight to 10 from north London and Nottingham. Half the group were born more than eight weeks early and the psychologists have not been told who these are. Each child is being studied along with a classmate who was born at full term.

Leading the project is Dr Samantha Johnson, a research psychologist with expertise in the long-term development of babies who are born very prematurely. Her team aims to help children who have developed difficulties with maths after being born early. Ultimately, the researchers hope their knowledge gained will lead to ways of boosting children’s skills in maths and other subjects.
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