Welcoming a new baby to your family can be very exciting.
From first words to first steps, you want your baby to grow and progress just like other kids in their age group.
If these things don’t happen at the expected rates, it can be a cause for concern.
As new parents, there are a lot of things which can contribute to the growth and development of your infant.
And if your baby is born preterm there is a higher risk of having to deal with health issues.
Some of these can include issues related to speech and language.
Luckily, if you do notice problems related to speech and language in your child, one option to consider is pediatric speech therapy.
Pediatric speech therapy can help identify issues and allow you to create a plan to target them before they get worse.
Today we’ll look at what the signs of speech disorders are, and how to recognize issues before they progress too far along.
Keep reading to find out more.
What Is A Preterm Birth?
When a baby is preterm, it means they’re born before week 37 of pregnancy.
In 2020, the World Health Organization estimated that 13.4 million babies were born preterm.
This accounts for between four and sixteen percent of total births that year.
Furthermore, complications related to preterm birth are the principal cause of death in children under the age of five.
As many as 75 percent of these deaths could be prevented with interventions.
Preterm births are further categorized to:
- Extremely preterm (born before 28 weeks)
- Very preterm (born at 28 to 32 weeks)
- Moderate to late preterm (32 to 37 weeks)
Sometimes preterm births are spontaneous.
In other cases, there may be a medical reason to induce labor early or plan a cesarean section.
Let’s have a look at some of the factors which could cause a baby may be born preterm.
What Causes A Baby To Be Born Preterm?
There are a variety of reasons a baby may be born preterm.
Some of these include complications in pregnancy, which lead to a need for early induction of labor.
Cases of multiple births, like twins or triplets, can also be a cause of preterm birth.
Other reasons or risk factors for preterm births can include:
- Having had previous babies born preterm
- Chronic stress
- Exposure to environmental pollutants
- Having six months or less between giving birth and becoming pregnant again
- Diabetes, or gestational diabetes
- Infections, including sexually transmitted infections and urinary tract infections
- Developmental abnormalities in the unborn baby
- Lifestyle factors such as smoking, or drug use
- Being either overweight, or underweight before becoming pregnant
- Being under 18 years or over 35 years of age when you give birth
In most cases, however, preterm births are spontaneous.
What Health Concerns Do Preterm Babies Face?
Babies who are born preterm are at higher risk for a number of health conditions, including different impairments and disabilities.
Issues with brain development can result in delays related to:
- Social interactions
- Physical development
- Being able to care for themselves
Other conditions and issues associated with preterm births include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Hearing loss, which can affect language development
- Neurological disorders speech therapy can help
- Vision problems
- Cerebral palsy, which can affect speech as well as motor skills
- Higher rates of infection, like chronic ear infections
- Bronchopulmonary dysplasia
- Behavior issues
- Dental issues
- Hearing loss
Signs Your Preterm Baby Has A Speech Or Language Disorder
If your baby is born preterm you probably have concerns about what this means for their health and development long term.
This can include speech and language disorders.
In this section, we’ll review some of the signs to watch for which could indicate your preterm baby may have one of these disorders.
1. They’re Not Developing At Expected Pace
There are certain speech development milestone markers which, if not met, can indicate a speech or language disorder.
From birth to approximately fourteen months of age, babies will mostly communicate through crying.
Around four months of age they may start babbling, although you can add a month or two to this for those born prematurely.
Most children will speak their first word between fourteen and twenty months.
If it takes longer than this, it could be a sign of a speech disorder.
Around the age of two, most children will be able to say simple sentences consisting of a couple of words.
If they aren’t meeting these milestones, consider having them tested for speech and language delays.
2. They Have A Small Vocabulary
Once your child reaches about two years of age, they should have a vocabulary of fifty to seventy words.
They should also be able to begin forming basic two to three word sentences.
It’s a good idea to have children who aren’t meeting these markers tested for speech delays.
3. They’re Hard To Understand
Sometimes your child may mumble or mispronounce words.
This can be frustrating, especially when they are finally learning to speak.
As a parent or caregiver you want to be able to understand and communicate with them.
When they are trying to communicate, make an attempt to determine what they want, and then say the word correctly while staying positive.
Try not to let your child sense if you’re feeling frustration or anger at not being able to understand them.
If this happens, they may stop trying to communicate altogether.
Speech therapy coaching for parents is a good way to help you manage your emotions and responses to your child when they struggle to communicate.
It can empower you to support your child without letting your emotions get in the way.
In turn, this will encourage more communication from your child.
4. They Aren’t Very Responsive To Sound
Babies and children generally respond to their environments.
Even while still in utero, babies can hear and recognize their birthing parent’s voice as early as the third trimester.
Once born, they will start recognizing other voices as soon as one week old.
By two to four months of age, they should start to respond to the sound of your voice.
At five months they may start turning towards the source of sound.
If they aren’t doing this, it could be a sign of hearing loss.
This could be due to something as simple as a buildup of earwax.
However, if you find this isn’t the case, then you may want to consider having a hearing test done.
And a baby who can’t hear the world around them is going to have a hard time learning words and practicing speech.
When Should You Bring Your Baby To A Speech Therapist?
When it comes to speech therapy for kids, early intervention is always the best option.
This is because the earlier you have your child screened for speech or language disorders, the sooner they can get treatment for them.
Research shows early intervention is always more effective than waiting until later.
So if your child is born preterm, you may want to look into speech therapy for them as they age.
Book Your Appointment With Voz Speech Therapy Today
Are you worried about the health and development of your preterm baby?
Do they not seem to be learning to talk at the same rate as other children in their age group?
Have you noticed that they don’t have as big a vocabulary as their siblings did at their age?
Maybe you sometimes have trouble understanding them when they try to speak.
At Voz Speech Therapy, we can help.
Serving clients in Washington DC and the surrounding area, consider making us part of your healthcare team.
One of our experienced Speech Language Pathologists will work with you and your child to assess where their issues lie.
Then we will determine the interventions to help get your child’s speech back on track.
Book your appointment with Voz Speech Therapy today.
1331 H St NW Ste 200,
Washington, DC 20005
Voz Speech Therapy is a pediatric bilingual speech therapy clinic in Washington, DC that provides individualized services based on the specific needs of your or your child. Therapy sessions are provided in English or Spanish, depending on your child’s native language. Voz Speech Therapy es una clínica pediátrica bilingüe de terapia del habla en Washington, DC que brinda servicios individualizados según las necesidades específicas de usted o su hijo. Las sesiones de terapia se brindan en inglés o español, según el idioma nativo de su hijo.