Premature Babies Feel the Effects Into Adulthood, Researchers Say

Health & Wellness on 08.03.11


A 23-year study of infants born prematurely showed that the health and emotional effects of an early birth can affect a child's life into adulthood -- both by putting them at risk for heart problems and other medical issues and by giving them a stronger push for success, says a study from the University of Rhode Island.

Reported by Time Healthland, the study, which has followed 213 premature babies through childhood, adolescence, and now onto their 23rd birthday, found that most babies "seem to do pretty well after they get over the initial preemie period," said lead researcher Mary Sullivan, although they did have an increased risk of asthma, high blood pressure, poor growth, and breathing problems, and some had fewer friends and more learning problems than their peers.

But Sullivan says that the premature babies also grew into children and teens with a "persistent drive to succeed," made even more powerful by parents who are willing to advocate for their children at school and with doctors. "There is a lot of great news about how well children do," Sullivan said. "We're also looking at what helps children do well." 

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