Reading programs helps preemies catch up on development

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 10:54 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A unique “read a thon” is underway at hospitals nationwide, encouraging moms and dads to read to their premature babies.

The little ones may not be able to understand the words but the effects of doing this can help babies get out from behind a developmental curve.

Amid all the medical equipment you can find in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit you also find moms and dads by the sides of their little ones, hoping they get better soon. Sometimes that improvement can be spurred on by letters printed on a page.

“He likes it too. sometimes he’ll even like smile.” This is Rachael Gunhammer and her son Kyzer, who was born pre-mature August 7th. Of all things a mom would be thinking about right now...reading a book might not be one of them. But as it turns out it might be some good ‘outside the box’ medicine.

“Reading to babies is super important particularly for premature infants.” Elizabeth Jeanson IS A Senior Physical Therapist AT Sanford Health and says of all the challenges preemies can face as they get older there’s one that most wouldn’t think about. The little ones miss out on hearing mom and dad’s voice in the womb for a full 9 months and that can lead to real problems down the road. “The most common developmental challenge that preterm infants have is delayed expressive language.”

So to help preemies get some of that time back, moms and dads are encouraged to read to their child so they can hear those voices.

When this was suggested to mom Rachael Gunhammer, she jumped at the chance to do it. “More parents should read to their kids more often.”

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