Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Birthweight link to maths problems

Children born prematurely are more likely to have trouble with maths

Children who are born prematurely are more likely to have problems with maths, according to research.

A new study, by researchers at Warwick University and Ruhr-University Bochum, in Germany, has found that youngsters who are born before 32 weeks gestation are three and a half times more likely to have difficulties with the subject later on than those who were born at full term.

Those who were born at around 32 to 33 weeks were around twice as likely to have problems with everyday maths, it suggests.

Professor Dieter Wolke, from Warwick, who co-authored the study, published by the Journal of Pediatrics, said: "Children who are born very pre-term, before 32 weeks of gestational age have a 39.4% chance of having general mathematic impairment compared to 14.9% of those born at term - 39 to 41 weeks."

The research, which looked at 922 children aged between seven and nine, also concluded that there was a link between being a small weight at birth and maths ability.

It found that a child who was born small for their age - regardless of whether they were born early - were significantly more likely to have problems with maths.

This could be due to alterations in their brain development before birth, the researchers suggested.

Prof Wolke said: "It is important to see that the further you go down the gestational age, they more likely they are to have maths problems.

"As maths is very important for success in life, it is important to intervene at an earlier age."

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