London: The length of time spent in hospital after birth and the use of mechanical ventilation are key indicators of reduced mathematical ability in preterm children, says a study.
Preterm children's mathematical abilities decrease exponentially with a lower gestational age, the findings showed.
"It is difficult to see how one could reduce the duration of neonatal medical treatment, as this may relate to a number of medical needs," said Julia Jaekel from the University of Warwick in Britain.
However, less invasive options to mechanical ventilation are available nowadays as the adverse effects of brain impairment are well known.
"Our findings may have significant implications for the choice of mode of respiratory support in neonates," Jaekel added.
The researchers used path analyses to establish two neuro-developmental cascade models.
Their findings are based on the fact that, on an average, a healthy full term child who does not undergo mechanical ventilation receives a general maths score of 100 and a specific maths score of 101.
On the other hand, a total of 51 very preterm children were ventilated for more than 30 days (thus the highest risk group). On an average, a preterm child receives a general maths score of 73 and a specific maths score of 91.
The study appeared in the journal Early Human Development.