The Complicated Age of Preemies
How old is my baby? Who knew that a question like this could be complicated...
Well, babies who are born prematurely have two ages: Chronological age is the age of the baby from the day of birth—the number of weeks or months old the baby is. Adjusted age is the age of the baby based on the original due date. Health care providers use this age when they evaluate the baby's growth and development. To find the adjusted age of a preemie, you take their chronological age and subtract the amount of time they arrived before their due date.
For example, Flynn was born three months early. In this picture, he was two months old, so his adjusted age was 36 weeks gestation (he technically shouldn’t have been born for another month).
Being premature can affect every aspect of growth and development differently. Some areas might not be affected at all, whereas others could be greatly impacted. Using a baby’s corrected age is particularly useful to verify if they are on target or delayed.
There isn't a set age when you should stop correcting a child's age for prematurity, but most health professionals recommend correcting until your child is two years old. The earlier your preemie is born, however, the longer you will take their adjusted age into account.