Premature babies show no deficit of math skills

( ) Updated: 2014-08-04 09:50:33

Premature babies show no specific deficit of arithmetical skills, research from the Ruhr-University Bochum showed on Friday.

In contrast to previous scientific studies, analysis of the Bochum developmental psychologists showed that prematurely born children are not worse at mathematics than children from a regular pregnancy.

For the study, all children completed at different times a series of tests of cognitive and academic skills, and their parents were interviewed in detail.

Analyses showed premature babies often have cognitive deficits at a later age, so face special problems in solving complex tasks.

To study preterm infants’ specific calculation deficits that do not come about by a general cognitive impairment, researchers also obtained the IQ of children in their calculations.

"The result was that a specific math deficit in preterm infants cannot be proved, if IQ is also considered," said Bochum developmental psychologist Julia Jaekel.

To examine specific deficits in mathematics, children in Germany need to attend a series of tests. If the result falls below a certain cut-off value in math and normal cognitive abilities (IQ) at the same time, the diagnosis would be "arithmetic learning disabilities" or "dyscalculia".

As preterm infants often have general cognitive problems, they can not be diagnosed with the current criteria, the study showed.

Jaekel called for international diagnostic guidelines, with which dyscalculia could be detected in cognitively slightly-impaired children.

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