Preemie development different from fullterm babies?

All babies, whether they are preterm of full-term, develop at all different paces. They might be ahead on one milestone, behind on another. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to milestones. The milestones are just a range of averages. It's just something to tell you when you might be able to expect your baby to do certain things. Not reaching a milestone at a certain expected time is not generally something to worry about, especially if they are developing in most ways at or around the milestones. Just gotta be patient.

However, preemies can sometimes be a little behind the milestones because they didn't have as much time to develop and prepare in the womb. There are currently some studies on this. This is what I found on ushealth:
“All 81 babies in the study -- 30 preterm and 51 full-term -- had normal brain structure, based on standard MRI scans. But when the researchers used MRS, they saw "biochemical" differences between the premature and full-term infants.
In general, the preemies showed an "early start" in the brain's white matter development, which put it out of sync with the maturation of the brain's gray matter. Gray matter can be seen as the brain's information-processing centers, while white matter is like the wiring connecting those centers.
Bluml described it as a "false start" in preemies' white matter development, and the trigger appears to take place after birth. It's not clear what that trigger is, but one possibility, according to Bluml, is oxygen.”

However, these are small differences and the studies how it affects babies later in life is still being worked on, to my knowledge.
When you're contemplating the milestones of a preemie baby, there is one thing you can do to help you get on track and not worry too much. It's the “adjusted age.” Say, if your baby is born a month early, you can add a month to the developmental milestone average range. Two months early? Add two. Three? Three. Etc. That way, baby still has as much time to develop as a fullterm baby to reach the milestones, even if it's a bit differently since they are outside the womb.

Either way, don't get too concerned or impatient and let baby grow and thrive! Babies—full-term and preterm ones—tend to be empathic little buggers who pick up on your emotions and will sense if you're worried or distressed. So, unless your baby is severely behind on a milestone or pretty behind on a lot of them... stay calm and encouraging for baby's sake! (Not to mention your own mental health) If you get too worried, you can always ask a competant pediatrician whether or not baby's on track. But, I'd say you could probably go with your gut. You know your baby best. If he or she seems happy and is continuing to learn and grow, you're probably good!

Do any of you have preemies? Was there a difference in reaching the developmental milestones? Did you have to use the adjusted age?
Do you ladies know other ways preemie development differs from full term, on time babies?

Moms Expertise
    8Theresa Gould
    No, but my husband was born 2 lbs 2 oz in 1966! He and his brother (4 lbs something) did just fine. I have heard that preemies catch up in the end, all things considered.
      Ellsie was a preemie. Six weeks early. She has never been developmentally behind when it comes to milestones. If anything she's done things EARLY. It's like she's trying to show the world "hey, just cuz I'm a preemie doesn't mean I can't do things." Which in all honesty, I've had people tell me there is NO WAY my daughter could be sitting up at three months, or rolling from back to belly at two months solely because she's a preemie. It's annoying. I always responded with, "I'm glad you're around my daughter so much that you know those things for a fact." ::eye roll:: (I'm sure every preemie mother feels this way at some point lol).

      But all babies are SO different. And all preemies are different. I was lucky with Ellsie. She was only in the hospital for three weeks, whereas some babies were in the special care nursery/nicu much longer than her. At her ped. visits they adjust for her height/weight since she's small, but they haven't had to yet developmentally.
        My cousin was only 28weeks I believe when she was born. She spent most of the first year of her life in the hospital. She was so small she could fit int he palm of your hand and my uncles wedding band fit her like a bracelet. She was only about a pound when she was born. They maxed out her insurance at $1million and had to make arrangements with their credit card company to pay the rest off. She had multiple surgeries and tubes in her ears and I believe was fed through a feeding tube. If you see her today (shes now almost 20) you would have no idea she was a preemie. She is super smart and talented. She is taller than I am and has no serious medical problems all though they still monitor her constantly. They got so lucky that she survived and turned out to be an amazing young woman.
        About Cassaundra Owens
        Birth: February 13
        On since: Oct 11, 2013
        I'm a little strange, pretty green, and learning to live life as a wife, future mother, and entrepreneur. Right now, my husband and I are trying for our first after 3.5 years of infertility and 2 losses. Viva la adventure! Join me too at!