Premature babies are assessed for developmental and physical growth markers based on their adjusted age, to ensure that they are being measured equally alongside their counterparts. This way we are able to find out whether they have caught up.
As a parent of premature babies I was thankful that they were born in these times and recovered well from being so keen to make an entrance into this world. It wasn't not until I got over the initial shock of it all that the idea of them 'catching up' was thrust into my mind at the first Maternal Child Health Nurse appointment. Being born small it started out as a simple charting their growth on a chart and measuring their percentiles. Being off the scale, as they were so small, I wondered; will my premmie ever catch up?
In my mothers group, there were preterm twins and another preterm boy. Everyone else had term babies. I would often compare the development of my premmie baby with the other babies. I soon came to learn you shouldn't - but you do.
My premmie girl reach milestones ahead of her corrected age but then seem to make no attempt at others, whilst the other babies were 'doing so much better.' They, weren't, they were just doing their own thing!
In my experience, paediatricians have always said that when premmies get to the age of 2, they are no longer measured on the adjusted scale and you no longer need to refer to their corrected age. This is to say that they generally have caught up by this time. That said, not all health professionals agree and some say you should correct until school age. Confusing much?
I've actually drawn the line at the 2 year mark and have seen my oldest premmie baby walk after turning 2 years old, but be yapping away with words and phrases long before some of her counterparts. She's smaller than her friends, but neither my husband or I are tall. My premmie twins are now nearly as big as my oldest and have well and truly caught up in size. They were walking around ~15 months corrected, so there you go. No two premmie babies are ever the same!
You can find out more from the Raising Children Network.