London: Children born prematurely have greater chances of experiencing behavioural or emotional problems or both in the pre-school years, a study reveals.

While the rate of premature births has remained more or less constant for some time, the rate of moderately premature births has been rising, Dutch researchers say.

They based their findings on more than 1,500 children whose behaviour and emotional development was assessed for four years, the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood reported.

About 1,000 children born between 32 and 35 weeks of pregnancy were classified as moderately premature and just fewer than 600 were born at term.

All the children were part of a long term study - The Longitudinal Pre-term Outcome Project or Lollypop - that looked at the growth, development, and general health of children born prematurely.

The study was conducted by paediatricians and neonatologists Marieke R. Potijk, Andrea F. de Winter, Sijmen A. Reijneveld, Arend F. Bos and Jorien M Kerstjens from the University of Groningen Medical Centre, The Netherlands.

Seven behavioural or emotional components were assessed, including anxiety or depression, aggression, attention disorders, and somatic complaints - conditions with no obvious physiological cause, according to a university statement.

"Our results demonstrate that moderately premature children are more likely to have behavioural and emotional problems before they enter school," said a researcher.

These types of problems tend to persist into later childhood and adolescence of the pre-mature children and are likely to affect their academic performance and friendships at school.

Courtesy: Mid-day.com