Low Birth Weight Babies at Higher Risk for Mental Health Problems Later in Life


Published:

Shutterstock photo

An analysis of nearly 30 years of research published by the American Psychological Association in February, suggests that babies born with extremely low birth weight are not only at risk for physical problems but are also more likely to experience mental health problems later in life.

Preterm births have increased dramatically over the last two decades and now make up about 8 percent of infants born in the U.S. and Canada. Babies born at an extremely low birth weight (less than 1,000 grams or just over 2 pounds) have a greater chance of surviving than ever before.

The data comes from 41 studies following 2,712 individuals who were born with an extremely low birth weight and 11,127 who were born with a normal birth weight. The studies took place over a 26-year period (1990-2016) in 12 countries, including the U.S. and Canada.

Extremely low birth weight babies were found to be at an increased risk for particular mental health problems, beginning in childhood and extending at least into their 30s. Findings included:

  • As children, they were significantly more likely to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in almost every study included in the review.
  • Adolescents were also at greater risk for ADHD and social problems.
  • Adults born with extremely low birth weight reported significantly higher levels of anxiety, depression and shyness, as well as significantly lower levels of social functioning.

Researchers from McMaster University published their findings in the Feb. 13, 2017 issue of Psychological Bulletin. They believe these findings may stem from biological responses of the infant to difficult prenatal conditions and postnatal stresses following early birth.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Content

Zoo Announces Gorilla Addition

Dembe, a 5-year-old male, will join the North Carolina Zoo's gorilla troop.

Preparing Your Family for Hurricane Irma

Safety tips, emergency kits and how to talk to your kids.

Helping a Quiet Child Bloom

Is your child an introvert? Here are ways to help your quiet child thrive.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Newsletter Sign-Up

Stay connected to what's going on for kids and families in the Triad by signing up for our FREE e-newsletters!

Subscribe

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Annual Guides

Education Guide

The all-new 2015-2016 Education Guide is packed with everything parents need to know to navigate more than 500 education options and resources in the Triad, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

GPS [Go. Play. See]

It's your complete family guide to Triad living. Parents are busy and on the go. Use this guide to help you explore all this great area offers for families in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, High Point and surrounding communities.

Exceptional Child

For parents of kids with special needs, finding help and support can be challenging. We've compiled valuable resources for Triad parents in our latest annual publication, Exceptional Child, which is also available as a digital guide.