Adults who were born pre-term are less likely to have a romantic relationship and experience parenthood than those born full term, according to a study. Researchers at the University of Warwick in the UK used data from up to 4.4 million adult participants, finding that those born preterm (under 37 weeks gestation) were 28 per cent less likely to form romantic relationships and 22 per cent less likely to become parents, when compared to those born full term.
The study, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, found that adults who were born preterm had lower chances of experiencing sexual relationships, finding a romantic partner or having children at the same age as those born full term.The extremely pre-term born adults were 3.2 times less likely to ever having sexual relations.Close and intimate relationships have been shown to increase happiness and well-being both physically and mentally, researchers said.However, studies also show that forming those relationships is harder for pre-term born adults, as they are usually timid, socially withdrawn and low in risk-taking and fun seeking.
Despite having fewer close relationships, this meta-analysis also revealed that when preterm born adults had friends or a partner, the quality of these relationships was at least as good in preterms compared to full term born adults.”The finding that adults who were born pre-term are less likely to have a partner, to have sex and become parents does not appear to be explained by a higher rate of disability,” said Marina Goulart de Mendonca from the the University of Warwick.”Rather preterm born children have been previously found to have poorer social interactions in childhood that make it harder for them to master social transitions such as finding a partner, which in turn is proven to boost your wellbeing,” de Mendonca said.
“Those caring for preterm children including parent’s health professionals and teachers should be more aware of the important role of social development and social integration for pre-term children,” Professor Dieter Wolke, from the University of Warwick added.”As preterm children tend to be more timid and shy, supporting them making friends and be integrated in their peer group will help them to find romantic partners, have sexual relationships and to become parents. All of which enhances well being,” said Wolke.
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