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Premature baby - 4 months old and not hitting milestones

Hi everyone,

Just wondered if anyone was in, or has been in, a similar situation to me to help ease my mind a little.

Basically, I gave birth to my son (my first born) 6 weeks prematurely (33+5) in July due to my waters going early. He had the cord wrapped round his neck at birth, spent 3 weeks on SCBU due to his prematurity (he didn't have the sucking reflex as this doesn't develop til 35 weeks) and was jaundice for a few months and weighed 4lbs but otherwise did well from the start and was (and is) a small but otherwise very healthy boy.

He's now 5.5 months (but really 4 months if he were born on time, and this is the age we're using to track his milestones) and weighs around 11 or 12lbs. Lately I've noticed he's not meeting his motor skill development milestones. Cognitively, he seems spot on - he's very smiley, tracks well, babbles and coos and has a strong attachment to myself and his dad. However, his upper body strength is very weak - he can hold his head up (albeit wobbly) when held upright, and at 45 degrees (again a bit wobbly) when propped up on his tummy time toy, but when pulled up by his arms his head lags backwards like a newborn and when placed down flat on the floor he can only move his side to side, not up. He also seems to have very little arm strength and when on his back can't reach far or lift his arms above his head to bat items, even though he's interested in them.

The HV visitor has just said 'wait and see' and at his 3 month check said she didn't think anything sinister was going on, but that he generally was just delayed due to his prematurity. However, it's now a month after she last visited and despite lots of tummy time he's not really improved. The more I read, the more I'm convincing myself he has cerebral palsy (mixed muscle tone - he has strong legs but weak upper body and is quite hard to handle as he likes to bend his body back like he's skydiving when you hold him upright against you).

He's got a developmental review with his paediatrician in March but I'm driving myself crazy because my gut says something isn't right and it's a very long time to wait - especially as I know that if it is CP, early intervention is key.

My sister is a nurse and has suggested that he may just take a little longer than usual (even based on his adjusted age) to hit these milestones but at 4 months adjusted, I'd expect him to be able to hold his head up by now?

Has anyone else had a prem baby that was delayed or had a term baby with similar symptoms? What was the outcome?

All my friends babies seem to have had great motor skills at around just 2 months but they were term so I suppose I'm just looking for something to compare him to, to see if this is normal or if I need to get a 2nd opinion (I've taken him to the GP and discussed with the HV so far - both of which have just said 'wait and see, he's premature after all').

Thanks in advance, from a worried mummy x

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Hi

I've had a 9 weeks prem baby girl. Your body and mind knows of the prematurity and acts in a way that will be most helpful to the upbringing of your baby.

Parents if prem babies have an increased urge to feed their baby and help it catch up with the milestones. Also these babies have an increased desire to be cuddled, hugged and kissed.so be prepared for that.

I found the adjustment time unhelpful as beyond some achievements some other ones seem to take double or triple the time. Plus every baby is different and you don't know whether it is the prematurity or their individuality or both that play a role.

I don't know much about cerebral palsy but get you and can say: trust your instinct.

Don't worry. If diagnosed..it will still be early...I imagine.

Best wishes

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Hi I had a prem baby he was 8 weeks early I was quite behind by sitting up crawling and even didn't start to walk till he was 3 and half...he was such a happy baby..he is now 9 and autistic and said it's prob because he was prem but wouldn't change him for the world

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My little one was born at 33+1, weighing 3lbs. He also struggled with anything involving his core. Hated tummy time as he couldn’t lift his head. He crawled before he was able to sit because he struggled to hold himself upright. He didn’t walk until he he was 17months but now he is a healthy and energetic 2 and a half year old who never stays still or quiet for longer than 5 seconds.

If you’ve got genuine concerns you should definitely go with your gut and seek advice.

I’ve however learnt that prem babies sometimes just do it in their own time and adjusting to due date doesn’t always work either!

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Thanks everyone for your replies.

Meli, I really appreciate your response as it gives me a bit of hope! Is he now reaching all of his milestones now he is 2 1/2?

Yes, with my LO it seems his main problems are chest and arms - he just has no strength in them at all - but is getting a little better at holding his head up during tummy time he just can't bear weight on his arms, or reach out to items whilst he's there and sometimes falls on his side due to the lack of strength in his arms.

We have booked with a private physiotherapist this weekend so hopefully they should be able to tell us if they think he could have something like CP, and if not just give us a few exercises to try and build his strength up if that is what the problem is, as you say, due to his prematurity.

I'll post back on here after we know that more. Hopefully it will be good news and may reassure other parents with premature babies that might be in the same situation. Thank you again for all your responses - Perhaps there is light at the end of the tunnel! X

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So as promised, a bit of an update.

We went to see the private physio at the weekend and the good news is that, after doing some observation and exercise, she says there is no evidence of CP, and he's actually on track for his adjusted age of 4.5 months.

She did say that his upper body strength is slightly behind for his age but his core and legs are very strong and ahead, so he's over compensating for his slightly wobbly head with his lower body, which is why he stiffens when held upright because he's trying to balance out.

He even did some semi-assisted rolls during the session and she's said to keep encouraging him to do this to build up his upper body strength, and to place him in his bumbo (even though he hates it!) because he's then forced to sit in a sitting position with his head upright... so to do a couple of minutes a day alongside his usual tummy time.

So it's all looking very positive at the moment... I just wanted to follow up my original post so that any mums with prem babies who might be worrying know that they can take longer than even their adjusted age to hit the milestones, and not to panic too much - I'm now just going to be patient and enjoy watching my little boy hit the milestones at his own pace! X

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The main thing is that he gets there eventually!

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