Study Finds Premature Babies Are Less Likely To Have Romantic Partners Or Kids Later On

A strange new study says premature babies are less likely to be in romantic relationships, be sexually active, or have children in the future.

The research was published in the JAMA Network Open Journal. Date from twenty-one different studies was considered, which looked a 4.4 million adults who had been born prematurely. The data was collected from an array of countries, including Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Israel, Canada, U.S., New Zealand, and Australia.

The widespread study concluded by determining that individuals born prematurely face more difficulty in developing romantic relationships, becoming intimate, and having children.

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Specifically, preemies are 28 percent less likely to develop romantic relationships than their full-term born counterparts. Similarly, they are 22 percent less likely have children. But perhaps most surprisingly, the research found preemies are 57 percent less likely to have sexual encounters.

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“These associations were found for both men and women, and were stronger the lower gestational age,” lead researcher Marina Mendonca, from the University of Warwick, said of the results. There didn’t appear to be a difference between those aged 18 to 25.

She continued. “This means that the chances of finding a romantic partner or having children were lower for those born very or extremely preterm, with the extremely preterm born adults being for example 3.2 times less likely to ever have sexual relations when compared to their full term peers."

Previous research has determined that premature babies are more likely to have personality traits such as shyness, introverted, overly-cautious, and also overcontrolling, which may explain their difficult in forming romantic relationships. Other serious side-effects of premature birth can include development disabilities, cognitive impairments, and also mental health issues.

"Previous research has shown that children born preterm have poorer social interactions: They are more often withdrawn and shy, socially excluded and less likely to take risks in adolescence,” Mendonca explained.

However, the research is far from over, according to Mendonca. She says future studies need to question what features of premature individuals make them at greater risk of missing out on these interactions. Furthermore, she argues this study highlights the need to encourage socialization between children at a young age, especially for preemies.

Speaking to Newsweek, Heidi M. Feldman, a professor at Stanford University School of Medicine, warned that these results may not be reflective of premature people being born nowadays since surveyed participants were likely born between 1980 to 1990.

Advances in pre-term infant care may make these startling statistics lower for those born in more recent decades.

As such Feldman explained, "Therefore, these adults may have had more substantial impacts of preterm birth than children who were born more recently. She argued, “We need continued research of this type to see if the current cohorts fare better than their predecessors.”

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