Prematurely born babies are likely to face some unexpected challenges in their adulthood, according to a study. The study stated that they are less likely to enjoy a romantic relationship and have children later in life.
The new finding that was published in the JAMA Network Open on Friday has added on to the number of health problems, including physical disabilities and mental disorders, associated with preterm birth.
On an average, 15 million preterm babies are born every year, according to World Health Organization (WHO). In other words, one in 10 babies around the world is born prematurely.
For the study, the researcher combined and analyzed the results of 21-population or long-term studies on adults whose sexual history or relationship and birth status were recorded. These studies consisted data of about 4.5 million people belonging to different age groups. The participants were from 12 different countries.
During the study, the researchers looked at the romantic relationships, parental status and general social circles of each of the participant. On an average, prematurely born people were less likely to enjoy a romantic partnership and they were less likely to become parents as compared to those who were born full-term.
The researchers stated in the study that their findings are very concerning for some obvious reasons. “Lack of sexual activity and lack of romantic partner support are associated with lower levels of happiness and poorer physical and mental health,” they explained.
The scientists also found a link between social anxiety and preterm birth. The researchers stated that prematurely born people “have poorer social interactions in childhood that make it harder for them to master social transitions such as finding a partner, which in turn is proven to boost your wellbeing.”
The researchers further said prematurely born people also take more time to reach certain milestones in life, such as getting a job and having a romantic relationship, than those who are born full-term.
“The finding that adults who were born pre-term are less likely to have a partner, to have sex and become parents does not appear to be explained by a higher rate of disability,” first author Marina Goulart de Mendonça said in a statement.
The study even stated that there was a vast difference between people born before 28 weeks and those who were born between 28-31 weeks. While the first group of participants had more social struggles that the second group of people.
“Those caring for preterm children including parent’s health professionals and teachers should be more aware of the important role of social development and social integration for pre-term children. As preterm children tend to be more timid and shy, supporting them making friends and be integrated in their peer group will help them to find romantic partners, have sexual relationships and to become parents. All of which enhances wellbeing,” senior author Dieter Wolke said.
The study, titled Association of Preterm Birth and Low Birth Weight With Romantic Partnership, Sexual Intercourse, and Parenthood in Adulthood, was conducted by a group of researchers from the University of Warwick.