Preemie Development: Understanding Actual vs Corrected Age

How old is your baby? Most new mothers hear that question a lot. For the mom of a premature infant also known as a preemie, the answer can be complicated. So how exactly do you answer this person’s question? It’s really up to you, but it is important that you are aware of preemie development: understanding actual vs corrected age.

Catching UP

A baby that is born 2 months premature is not expected to develop at the same pace as a baby who is born to term. While one meets milestones as expected, the other needs time to catch holding feet of a preemie.

Therefore, terms like actual age or chronological age is one way of looking at development. The other way is to focus on corrected age also known as gestational age.

Actual age is the time since your baby was born, whereas corrected age is how old your baby would be if they had been born on their due date. Therefore, if your baby was born 3 months early, and it is now 7 months since his birth, your baby’s corrected age is 7 months minus 3 months premature. This equals a corrected age of 4 months.

Why Focus On the Corrected Age?

Having a corrected age allows our pediatricians and your care team to follow your baby’s growth and development. A baby born several months premature is not expected to be at the same developmental stage as a baby born to term.

During the first two years, using your baby’s corrected age will give you a more realistic idea of when the baby should reach common developmental goals.

Common Developmental Problems

Health problems are common with premature infants. Some of these issues include the following:

  • Feeding difficulties include your infant having trouble sucking, swallowing, and breathing.
  • Breathing difficulties happen when the baby’s lungs don’t have enough fluid to keep their small air sacs open. The result can include pauses in breathing, scarring of the lungs, or “respiratory distress syndrome.”
  • Infections can occur due to your little one having an immature (underdeveloped) immune system, and at the same time being exposed to infections in the hospital or before birth.
  • Jaundice happens when your baby’s liver isn’t developed enough to clear waste.
  • Neurological problems can include cerebral palsy, developmental delay, and autism spectrum disorder. Any cognitive delay is linked to the amount of prematurity.
  • Other issues can include vision problems like retinopathy of prematurity, bleeding in the brain, or bowel issues.

Most parents stop using corrected age after 2 or 3 years.

Contact Kids First of Raeford at (910) 848-5437 if you have additional questions or concerns about development of your premature baby and actual vs corrected age.

Sources: Corrected gestational age for premature babies | Pregnancy Birth and Baby (

Corrected Age For Preemies –

Premature babies and corrected age | Raising Children Network

What Does it Mean to “Adjust for Prematurity”? | Pathways