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Premature Babies May Have Higher Risk Of Mental Health Issues

Update Date: Feb 14, 2017 08:30 AM EST

A new study has revealed that children who were born prematurely have a greater risk of developing mental health issues and social problems. Attention disorders, shyness and anxiety may start in childhood and persist into adulthood.

Those with very low birth weight, less than 1kg, are more likely to have attention disorders and social difficulties during childhood. They tend to be more shy, anxious and depressed as adults compared to those born with a healthy weight.

According to Express, researchers gathered findings from 41 published studies over the past 26 years. The study followed 2,712 individuals who had extremely low birth weight and 11,127 who had normal birth weight. The review highlights the need for doctors to follow closely how premature children can develop mental health problems as they become teenagers and adults.

The Guardian reported the study involved data from 13,000 children in 12 different countries. In the past two decades we have had significant improvement in neonatal care where more premature born children survive.

Brain development in premature children is greatly affected and they have found to be more introverted and risk averse. They are less prone to drink, smoke, and take drugs as adults. The increased risk of mental health problems were seen in preterm children regardless where they were born.

They were also more likely to develop attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and significant emotional problems. Those who reached adolescence were found to be twice at risk.

"This does not mean that, in general, infants born extremely preterm will ultimately develop mental health problems, only that the risk of developing such problems is higher in this group than in those born at full term," said Karen Mathewson, a psychologist at McMaster University in Ontario.

Dieter Wolke professor at the University of Warwick said the study emphasizes that these children and their families need more support to help and deal and reduce developing mental problems. These problems may affect their schooling, wellbeing , wealth and finding a partner and friends who would be supportive into adulthood.

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