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How is physical maturity assessed?
The physical assessment part of the Dubowitz/Ballard Examination examines physical characteristics that look different at various stages of your baby's gestational maturity. Babies who are physically mature usually have higher scores than premature babies.
Points are given for each area of assessment, with a low of one or two for extreme immaturity to as high as four or five for post-maturity. The following physical characteristics are assessed:
skin - ranges from sticky and red to smooth to cracking or peeling
lanugo (the soft downy hair on a baby's body) is absent in immature babies, then appears with maturity, and then disappears again with post-maturity
plantar creases - these creases on the soles of the feet range from absent to covering the entire foot depending on the maturity
breast - the thickness and size of breast tissue and areola (the darkened ring around each nipple) are assessed
eyes and ears - eyes fused or open and amount of cartilage and stiffness of the ear tissue
genitals, male - presence of testes and appearance of scrotum, from smooth to wrinkled
genitals, female - appearance and size of the clitoris and the labia
How is neuromuscular maturity assessed?
Six evaluations of your baby's neuromuscular system are performed. These include:
A score is assigned to each assessment area. Typically, the more neurologically mature the baby, the higher the score.
When the physical assessment score and the neuromuscular score are added together, the gestational age can be estimated. Scores range from very low for immature babies (less than 26 to 28 weeks) to very high scores for mature and post-mature babies.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”