In conversation with a retired Paediatric surgeon today, the topic of premature babies came up. He said that the commonest type of surgery in new-borns has changed over the years. Unlike a couple of decades ago, the commonest operation now is for dead gut, essentially due to the rise in our ability to provide better care for premature babies. He thought that the incidence of premature births was almost double in London than anywhere else in the UK because of high stress levels.
According to one of the largest reviews of evidence, children born very prematurely are at greater risk of developing mental health and social problems that can persist well into adulthood. Children who weighed less than a kilogram at birth are about four times as likely as those born at term to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and significant emotional problems. This may be due to weakened connections in brain networks linked to attention, communication and the processing of emotions.
These findings are important because mental health issues that occur in childhood are a strong predictor of psychiatric disorders in adulthood. “There is a strong case for assessing, on a regular basis, the mental health status of these children, so that early intervention approaches might be implemented sooner rather than later, with a view to minimising future mental health problems,” said Prof Smith from Glasgow.
Sarah is a Registered General Nurse with 25 years’ experience. She worked as a Neonatal Nurse over the last 17 years prior to moving to The University of Salford where she is now a Neonatal Lecturer within the Midwifery Team.
Sarah became involved with PAPYRUS in 2013 after the loss of her 14-year-old son Ben to suicide. Ben was a premature baby.