According to researchers- even healthy infants that are born premature may be at high risk for lower academic achievement, especially in mathematics.

Premature infants who are considered ‘normal’ in term of their development stages, infant / toddler may remain at risk of significant difficulties when it comes to mathematics, as well as deficits in attention, executive functions and spatial skills”, researchers said.

Natacha Akshoomoff, one of the researchers said, “Even healthy premature infants are at high risk for lower academic achievement, especially in mathematics”. Researchers at the University of California at San Diego have been given a period of five years, the grant of a longitudinal study designed to track development in cognitive, academic, and measures of very preterm brain transition from preschool to school primary.
“The results serve as a basis for designing appropriate learning interventions”, the researchers said.

Scientists predict that perceptual and cognitive deficits are associated with specific early deficits in mathematics that arise as children begin school.

They hope their findings will greatly improve the understanding of why certain skills seem to be more vulnerable to premature birth, how this relates to early math deficiency, and how the changes observed in the brain account for the results of neurological development in healthy preterm infants.

“Recent studies have identified a common pattern of subtle abnormalities in the white matter of the brain in very preterm children. These first anomalies can affect the subsequent development of widely distributed brain areas, and can account for the patterns of cognitive deficits are observed later in childhood, “said Akshoomoff.

Akshoomoff also added, “The objective of this study is to provide these essentials as children enter a critical stage of development in which the intervention may have the best potential to achieve better outcomes for these children”.

Akshoomoff and a multidisciplinary team of researchers will use techniques of magnetic resonance imaging to study the links between zones and affected brain pathways and levels of performance on neurocognitive and a set of mathematical functions.

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