Babies born prematurely may have an unexpected disadvantage by the time they reach adulthood, according to new research this week. He suggests that they will be less likely to have a relationship or romantic relationship, as well as being less likely to have children than people born full-time.
It is known that premature birth can increase the risk of a person's health problems, as well as low birth weight (the two conditions often coincide). These health problems include learning and physical disabilities, as well as mental health disorders such as clinical depression.
Other research has suggested even people born prematurely are more likely to be shy or introverted.
Addressing these conditions or personality traits would make it logically more difficult for some people to function socially while growing up in adults, but according to the authors behind this study, there has been little research looking specifically at this topic.
So for their study, published in JAMA Network Open, the authors analyzed and combined the results of 21 long-term or population-based studies in adults whose birth status and relationship or sexual history were recorded. These studies collectively included around 4.5 million adults of variable ages from 12 countries.
While most of the included studies only asked for romantic relationships of the person or if they were parents, some also asked about their general social circles.
On average, people born before 36 weeks were less likely to report having ever had a romantic relationship or sexual intercourse and were less likely to report being parents than full-time parents. The findings of the study are relative for obvious reasons, the authors said.
"Lack of sexual activity and lack of romantic support for partners are associated with lower levels of happiness and lower mental and physical health," they wrote.
The new wireless sensors allow premature babies to get more cuddles
The Chicago researchers have apparently found a much simpler way for premature children in intensive care to get the human touch and pampering they need from their caregivers. This week they introduced a system of low-irritation wireless sensors that can be used to monitor a child's health from a distance. The sensors, already tested in the real world, could one day replace and even outperform the cumbersome tangle of cables currently used in neonatal intensive care units.
The study also seems to affect a common theory on the social well-being of people born prematurely. Some have argued that they take longer to achieve certain goals such as getting a job, having romantic relationships or becoming parents than the general population.
But while people in both groups were more likely to have found love and desire as they grew, the gaps between them were still evident. For example, while 98% of people born full-time over the age of 26 reported having sex at least once, averaging across all relevant studies, only 78% of people born prematurely out of 26 claimed it same.
"Overall, rather than a delay, our results suggest persistent difficulties in making these social transitions that have been associated with negative outcomes later in life, such as lower wealth, social isolation and poorer physical and mental health," they said. the authors.
There were also disparities within groups of people born prematurely. Those born before 28 weeks have generally had more social struggles than those born between 28-31 weeks or those born between 32-36 weeks.
But these differences between people born prematurely or full-time are probably not due to higher rates of disability, the authors hypothesized, but more subtle effects on their personality or social functioning.
"Rather, premature babies were previously found with poorer social interactions in childhood that make it more difficult for them to dominate social transitions like finding a partner, which in turn has been shown to increase your well-being", author principal Marina Goulart de Mendonça, a psychologist at the University of Warwick, stated in a publication from & # 39; university.
Finding the best ways to ensure that people born prematurely are not left behind socially is crucial, the authors said, especially at the beginning of life. But there was a coating of silver in their results. When people born prematurely had love and friendship, their relationships seemed just as positive and satisfying as anyone else.