Researchers Study Premature Babies And Their Lifelong Struggles, Here's What The Study Finds

By Alexie Summer, Parent Herald May 25, 12:59 am

A new study suggests that extremely low-birth-weight premature babies are more likely to face life-long challenges in terms of health, social and economic aspects. While generally premature babies grow up to be productive individuals, it is still unknown how they would fare later in life.

Extremely Low-Birth-Weight Premature Babies

The new study published Tuesday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics discovered life-long challenges that extremely low-birth-weight premature babies face in adulthood, Daily Mail UK reported. According to the report, the first generation of extremely low-birth-weight premature babies, who weigh less than 1,000 grams or 2.2 pounds, is now into their fourth decade. These extremely low-birth-weight premature babies were born after the invention of neonatal intensive care.

The researchers found that these premature babies were found to have lower income or less likely to get employed, fewer sexual encounters or less likely to conceive and may end up single compared to their healthier counterparts, later in life. "To our knowledge, this is the first study that has followed prospectively from birth over various intervals up to the 30s," study author Dr. Saroj Saigal told CBS News.  The new study continues to follow the first generation of extremely low-birth-weight premature babies.

The Life-Long Challenges

For the study, Dr. Saroj Saigal of McMaster University in Canada and colleagues examined 189 adults born between 1977 and 1982 according to Fox News. These adults aged between 29 and 36, included 100 individuals born with extremely low-birth-weight and 89 individuals born with normal-birth-weight.

The two groups have the same level of educational attainment. All participants completed standardized questionnaires about health, education, employment, social integration, sexuality and reproduction. However, one in five premature babies was found to have neurological impairments.

While the two groups had the same life circumstances and educational achievement in their mid-20s, only a few of the premature adults were working or working on full-time. On average, the extremely low-birth-weight group makes $20,000 less per year compared to the normal weight group.

Half of the extremely low-birth-weight group was never married or just stayed single with twenty percent of them never experiencing sexual intercourse. While these premature adults have done remarkably well considering, continuous monitoring is needed so support could be provided to them if other problems may arise in the future.


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