Corrected Age

“Corrected Age.” This is a term that parents of premature babies become very familiar with. But what does it mean exactly?

Well here’s the Coles Notes version:

Chronological Age = Actual Age. This is how most of us calculate our own age based on the date we’re born.

Corrected Age = Adjusted Age. This is calculated by subtracting the baby’s actual birth date from the expected due date.

Clear as mud right?

Here’s an example to break it down: Our girls were due on May 1st but were born on March 3rd. On their first birthdays on March 3rd their Chronological Age was 12 months, but their Corrected Age was 10 months.

Make sense?

You might be wondering, why does this matter?

When the girls were born early I remember telling my husband that I wouldn’t be referring to their corrected age. I didn’t see the point and didn’t want to confuse myself or anyone else.

But I very quickly realized the importance of adjusting their age.

Being born early meant that our girls were small and it has taken them a long time to gain weight. Their family doctor and paediatrician have been constantly monitoring them in terms of this. Their visits became less frequent; from bi-weekly, to monthly to just twice a year based on their growth and development. Despite being small, the doctors have never been concerned about their weight and size because they’ve continually gained and grown, even in small increments. The doctors have always been cognizant of their corrected age but never based their size on it.

When it comes to their milestones, that’s where their corrected age plays a bigger role.

We would be at play dates or chatting with other parents and hear about things that their kids (who were very close in age to our girls) were doing.

I never like to compare my girls to other kids. I don’t even like comparing them to each other because even though they’re identical they are very different in many ways. But there are certain gross motor skills and fine motor skills that happen within a general timeframe and this is where corrected age comes into play.

For Ella, her gross motor skills seemed to be her main focus. She took her first steps at 14 months (which was actually 12 months corrected). But when it came to her fine motor skills i.e.: drawing pictures, playing with puzzles, she didn’t express an interest in this until much later.

Zoey however was (and still is) the exact opposite. Puzzles and colouring were things she tackled earlier than her sister. Walking was something she took her time with. Her first steps came at 16 months (14 months corrected).

We have been very fortunate to have the girls monitored by our Region’s Early Intervention program. Their case worker has been with them since they were babies and has watched them grow and develop. She has given us tips and tools to help them progress and it’s been an amazing experience for all of us.

As first time parents, we weren’t sure when to be concerned or when to just let it slide, Liz was able to help put our minds at ease when it came to their development.

Many times, the girls’ milestones were bang on when we accounted for their corrected age. They were doing things like putting beads into a bottle and drawing straight lines in the margin of what their age was — based on their corrected age, not their chronological age.

As I already mentioned, all babies are different, and all will develop at their own rate. But understanding corrected age just gave us some peace of mind.

Fast forward to May 1st 2015. This was a very big day in our house. It marked the day that we would no longer refer to the girls with their corrected age. The general rule for preemies is that at the age of two they’ve caught up developmentally to the chronological calendar.

We went to see their paediatrician for their two-year appointment. All of their checkups have been important, but this one in particular was a very big deal. At the two-year follow up their paediatrician would decide whether we would need to continue bringing the girls back every six months for monitoring, or, if this would be our last scheduled visit.

He smiled and said they look great and healthy and then told us what we had deep down been hoping to hear. That the girls were all clear and wouldn’t need any future follow ups, unless directed by their family doctor. We did it! Two-years of medical follow ups to ensure our little preemies were growing strong and we did it!

We are thrilled with the amount of monitoring they’ve received and will continue to receive through their case worker, doctor and medical professionals. We have and will continue to celebrate every accomplishment, including this one.

Two years old, where has the time gone?

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