Saturday, February 23, 2008

So how old is my baby?

Once you have a preemie, you will start to hear terms such as "gestational age," "chronological age," and "adjusted or corrected age." It can get a little confusing as to what the terms mean and where they do and don't apply.

Here's a general guide to help you understand what each term means and when they should be used.

Gestational Age - this is how many weeks your baby spent in the womb before he/she was born. For example, our daughter was born at 24 weeks and 4 days. They base this age on when your actual due date was.

Chronological Age - this age is calculated from the point that your baby was born. They add the number of days/weeks that your baby is old and add that to his/her original gestational age. For example, when our daughter was 2 weeks old, her chronological age was 26 weeks.

Adjusted/Corrected Age - this age is determined by subtracting the number of weeks early your baby was from his/her gestational age. For example, our daughter is now 13 months old. Since she was 16 weeks early, than her adjusted age is 9 months old.

When/where does each term apply and what does it mean?

Gestational age - once your baby is born, his/her gestational age is used to let people know how early your baby was. For example, my daughter was born at 24 weeks or she was 16 weeks early. My son was born at 31 weeks or he was 9 weeks early. A little tip: Doctors will want to know the gestational age in terms of how many weeks old your baby was at birth however most people will better understand if you say how many weeks early your baby was.

Chronological Age - This is the age that doctors will use to schedule check-ups and immunizations. Even though your baby may have born early, he/she should still receive immunizations and regular check-ups based on their chronological age. This is also the age that you will use throughout your child's life to reference how old he/she is.

Adjusted Age - Most people use your baby's adjusted age to determine what developmental milestones your baby should be hitting. Since our daughter's adjusted age makes her 9 months, the doctors and therapists will access her based on things that she should be doing as a 9 month old NOT as a 13 month old. Sometimes adjusted age is also taken into consideration for things such as eating solid foods, drinking from a sippy cup, etc. You should always check with your doctor to make sure that you are doing things at a rate that is appropriate for your baby. Some children may do things before, after or right at the time of their adjusted age.

How long does adjusted age apply?

Most people use adjusted age until a child is two. There are some people who think that people should continue to use it until a child is 2 1/2. Regardless, most premature babies have caught up by the time they are 2 - 2 1/2. Once they reach that age than you can just use their chronological age for reference. This timeline may change based on other conditions or factors your child may be facing.

When do I celebrate my child's birthday?

Even though your baby was born early and has an adjusted age, you should still celebrate their birthday on the day they were born. That will always be the day they were born regardless if you are adjusting for other things. You can also celebrate other things including the day they came home, the day big milestones were set, etc. Look for more on this in later posts.

1 comment:

Martha Compton said...

Thank you for this blog. 3 weeks ago today I had a baby born at 27 weeks, 6 days. I check this blog regularly and appreciate the tips and information.
Keep it coming! Thanks!