Nandita Chakraborty, B.Optom
Student, NSHM Knowledge Campus, Kolkata
Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. (1)
This affects areas of the brain that process language. Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory, and verbal processing speed. (2)
Relationship between dyslexia & premature birth:
A study showed that babies born just 1 or 2 weeks before their 40-week gestation due date are more likely to develop learning difficulties such as dyslexia. Scientists have found that while babies born at 40 weeks have a 4 percent risk of learning difficulties, those born at 37 to 39 weeks of gestation have a 5.1 percent risk. (3)
- Dyslexia can influence areas such as coordination, organisation, and memory.
- Each person with dyslexia will experience the condition in a way that is unique to them and as such, each will have their own set of abilities and difficulties.
- Dyslexia occurs across the range of intellectual abilities.
- Difficulties may be seen in aspects of language, motor coordination, mental calculation, concentration, and personal organization.
- Some common symptoms include Late talking, learning new words, difficulties in finding the right words or forming answers, spelling problems, low self-esteem, etc
Babies who are born prematurely do have a higher risk of having learning and thinking differences. Premature birth is defined as being born before the start of the 37th week of pregnancy. (Full-term pregnancies last about 40 weeks.) The risk of having learning and thinking differences in babies increases with their prematurity. It doesn’t mean that every premature child will be born as dyslexic or with any learning disabilities.(4)
In a premature baby, their brain doesn’t develop completely in the womb which can lead to a risk of having Dyslexia or learning or thinking disorders. There are many factors that can impact a premature foetus’s development. (5)
- Some preemies are underweight. That means less than 5.5 lbs/2.5 kilograms are considered underweight babies. So, this can be a cause.
- Genetic disorders can be an important cause of this.
- Some babies have serious medical complications that can affect their brain development.
- Consuming alcohol, drugs, and nicotine of mothers, while their babies are in the womb, can seriously affect the fetus.
- Preemies have developmental delays sometimes. It can be an early sign of learning disorders.
Dyslexia is not a common disorder which can be ignored easily, even if it can be a major issue if it’s not treated with proper medical assistance and care for preemies and others. As Dyslexic symptoms are different most of the time for each patient, one must be specific while diagnosing whether it’s Dyslexia or any other disorder. One more thing to keep in mind is before performing a premature delivery it’s important to check the condition of the fetus whether it’s having any brain-related issues which can be a cause of Dyslexia or any thinking or learning disorders.
Keywords: Dyslexia, Premature birth, Foetus.
- https://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/dyslexia/about-dyslexia/what-is-dyslexia [Last accessed: 20th Aug 2022; 18:00AEST]
- https://www.reuters.com/article/us-learning-gestation-idUSTRE6575QT20100608 [Last accessed: 20th Aug 2022; 17:40AEST]
- https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseasesconditions/dyslexia/symptoms-causes/syc-20353552 [Last accessed: 20th Aug 2022; 18:10AEST]
- https://www.understood.org/articles/en/is-premature-birth-linked-to-learning-and-thinking-differences [Last accessed: 20th Aug 2022; 18:20AEST
- Frye, R. E., Landry, S. H., Swank, P. R., & Smith, K. E. (2009). Executive dysfunction in poor readers born prematurely at high risk. Developmental neuropsychology, 34(3), 254-271.