A new study led by researchers at the University of Helsinki in Finland suggests that babies born prematurely may be at a higher risk of developing mental health problems in adulthood.
The researchers based their findings on data from previously published studies of mental health in 747 adults, who were born prematurely, with a low birth weight and 1,512 adults, who were full term babies in five different countries.
Some recent studies showed that preemies are at a much higher risk of developing neurological impairments between the ages of 4 and 8, long-term health problems and death in early adulthood.
This study shows that preemies are also at a higher risk of experiencing mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. It was reported that preterm babies exhibited more “internalizing” issues and avoidant behaviors, like hypersensitivity to rejection, shyness and feelings of inadequacy.
However, preemies were less likely to exhibit “externalizing” issues, like cheating, property destruction, verbal bullying, physical aggression and disobeying rules than adults who were born full term.
“We have been able to show that adults born preterm at very low birth weight reported more internalizing and socially avoidant personality problems and less externalizing problems that their peers born full term,” said lead study author Riikka Pyhala.