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Q&A:
Is my son slower to reach certain milestones because he was premature?

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Question


My son was born seven weeks early. Will he be a year old on the day he was actually born, or should I wait until the anniversary of his due date to celebrate his birthday? Right now, he's holding on and trying to walk. From all the books I've read, it seems he lags behind others of the same chronological age in reaching this milestone. Is it because he was premature? He weighed 4 pounds, 11 ounces at birth.

Answer


Celebrate the joy of his birth on the actual day of his birth, as that is his official, legal birthday. Give yourself a cheer as well, as it sounds like you had a hard time. I'm glad that you're aware that our expectations about his development should be based on his estimated date of arrival. This age is termed his "corrected age" or "post conceptual age." For the first two to three years of a premature baby's life, we look at his development with the corrected age in mind. Expect him to follow a little behind for his actual age but to be on track if you do the correction. From that perspective, he is right on target. Surprisingly, most kids don't walk on their first birthday. In fact, independent walking is achieved on average at about 13 months for children born on or near their due date. So that his development can be closely watched and you can be given advice on how to support his growth, he should be enrolled in an infant follow-up program. Ask your health care provider or the NICU where he was cared for if you need a referral.  
 
 
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