Findings of a new study suggest that premature babies are less affluent as adults, probably because they are lacking in intelligence and mathematical abilities. The research carried out by a team of scientists from University of Warwick in the U.K followed analyses of data collected from 15,000 participants born either in 1958 or 1970.
Nearly 11% of the infants around the world are preterm, which translates into almost 15 million births every year. Those participants who were born preterm, which is at less than 37 weeks, were compared to those who were born full-term.
Explains Dieter Wolke, psychological scientist at the University of Warwick (England), “Our findings suggest that the economic costs of preterm birth are not limited to healthcare and educational support in childhood, but extend well into adulthood.”
Together, these results suggest that the effects of prematurity via academic performance on wealth are long term, lasting into the fifth decade of life,” Wolke noted.
The team looked at children born between 28 and 42 weeks of pregnancy specifically and paid close attention to their social, employment and economic status, as also their families and housing situation.
Preterm individuals were more likely to be unemployed, report financial difficulties, work as manual workers and less likely to own a house as compared to their counterparts who were born full-term, even after other factors were taken into account.
A detailed study of the data thus collected also revealed the mathematical and reading ability of preterm subjects to be significantly lower than those born a normal term. Earlier studies have already established that brain injury suffered by preterm children can lead to cognitive difficulties and could lead to underachievement at school.
Researchers hope the findings of this study to help parents and teachers of such preterm individuals and pay special attention to their needs.
The findings were first published in the journal Psychological Science.