The Reuters is reporting that children born in the 41st week of pregnancy – which is considered “late-term” – have better test scores compared with children born “full-term,” that is, at 39 or 40 weeks.
Dr. David N. Figlio from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois told Reuters Health by email said that the new study “shows not only that children born in late term continue to have an elevated risk of health problems when school-aged, but also that they have an elevated rate of cognitive benefits.”
Dr. Figlio’s team compared test scores at ages 8 through 15 on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) for more than 320,000 children born early-term, nearly 720,000 born at full-term, and almost 120,000 born late-term. They also looked at whether the children were classified as gifted by the Florida Department of Education.
Late-term infants fared better across the board, with higher standardized test scores, a greater percentage classified as gifted, and a smaller percentage having poor cognitive outcomes, according to a report in JAMA Pediatrics.
On the other hand, late-term infants were also more likely than full-term infants to have abnormal physical conditions of birth and physical disabilities at school-age.
The academic differences between late-term and full-term infants were about half the size of the differences seen between full-term and early-term infants, while the physical disability differences between late-term and full-term infants were about one-third the differences seen between full-term and early-term infants.
The differences between late-term and full-term infants were more pronounced for children of less-educated mothers.
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