The Division for Early Childhood (DEC) of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) endorses the development of national guidelines for the identification and eligibility for Part C Early Intervention (EI) services of children born low birth weight (LBW) and preterm in the United States. Core principles of this endorsement are listed below:
Children born LBW and preterm are at high risk for neurodevelopmental concerns including language, cognitive/executive function, social-emotional, and motor delays.
There are marked inconsistencies in terms of practices and policies regarding services for children born LBW and preterm that vary widely from state to state, leading to complications in identification and referral of these children.
Practitioners would benefit from increasing knowledge and skills to support their work with infant, toddlers, and young children who were born LBW and/or preterm and their families.
There is consistent evidence dating back to the 1980’s indicating early intervention can improve outcomes for children born LBW and preterm, as evidenced on increased performance on follow-up tests of cognitive and verbal skills at age 8 years and 18 years of age (see Infant Health and Development Program (IHDP), 1990, 1997).
Family involvement and low risk environments were important contributors to positive outcomes starting in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
DEC recommends that LBW of less than or equal to (≤) 1500 grams (3.3 lbs.) and less than (<) 37 weeks of gestational age should be considered a diagnosed physical or mental condition that makes an infant eligible to receive EI services.
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