Babies that are born prematurely are more likely to develop disorders such as anxiety, depression and ADHD, new research suggests.
There is a greater risk of developing mental disorders for babies born prematurely who have low birth weights. Compared to babies who had a normal birth weight, preemies are three times more likely to have psychiatric problems, according to research from McMaster University in Canada and published in the journal Pediatrics.
For the study, which focused on the mental health of preemies, researchers looked at 84 adults born between 1977 and 1982 who weighed under one kilogram at birth and they compared them with 90 babies who were born at a normal birth weight.
The study participants, who were in their 30s at the end of the study, were monitored since their birth. Findings over that time included that as teens, preemies are more likely to be shy or have attention problems such as ADHD. Further on in life, into their 20s, preemies were also more likely to experience anxiety disorders.
Recorded physiological problems that preemies may experience can include problems with sight, hearing and breathing as well as increased risk of developing learning disabilities.
The researchers believe the study could help in better ways of predicting, detecting and treating mental disorders. It has been estimated that one in 15 preemies dies, according to data from the World Health Organization.