Premature babies in England and Wales may be missing out on health checks that are designed to detect serious disabilities early on in a child’s life, according to a new study published by The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH).

NHS England recommends that all babies who are born more than 10 weeks early should be offered assessments to help detect any neurological or developmental issues. However, the findings from the RCPCH report indicate that 46% of premature babies had no record of these vital assessments or had missed them.

The report analysed data from more than 86,000 new-born babies across England and Wales who required specialist neonatal care during 2014. Of those, 3,600 babies were born more than 10 weeks premature, putting them at a heightened risk of having intellectual disabilities, hearing impairments and cerebral palsy.

Michael Burrell, a senior clinical negligence solicitor based in Thompsons Solicitors’ Birmingham office, said: “Premature babies often require a great deal of medical attention and it is vital that their progress is closely monitored from birth to ensure they are developing as they should be.

“More support is needed, in terms of staffing and funding levels, for neonatal units to ensure that every premature baby receives these crucial checks so any problems that are identified can be treated as early as possible."