Stage of Research: Scale-up Team Members: 5
Attainment School Readiness

Evaluating the Impact of Preterm Birth on Childhood Development

Medical advances mean many more babies are surviving preterm birth (being born before 37 weeks) but these children are known to face increased risks of a variety of developmental difficulties, compared to children born nearer to term.

Consequently, parents of children who are born prematurely are more likely to request a delay in the age at which their child starts school. The impact preterm birth has on children’s school readiness is not yet well understood though.

We explored the relationship between a child’s degree of prematurity at birth, and their likelihood of showing a “Good Level of Development” on the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP), an assessment completed by a child’s teacher at the end of their Reception year. This was done using data from 10,390 participants in the Born in Bradford (BiB) birth cohort.

We found that children born more prematurely were less likely to show a Good Level of Development on the EYFSP. Furthermore, we found that children born prematurely in the summer months were ‘doubly disadvantaged’ and at highest risk because their earlier birth led to them also being amongst the youngest in their class.

We worked in partnership with the Bradford City Council, as part of the Bradford Opportunity Area, on this project. This led to local school admissions policies reflecting the ‘double disadvantage’ effect we observed in their guidance on parental applications for delayed school entry.

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Test in contexts and delivery conditions ~ 500 schools


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