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When premature babies grow up

Is there no end to the disadvantages of being a preemie? I am a scientist and I believe in science. But the scientific findings that point towards future problems for babies born premature are just so overwhelming that they can break a mother’s heart.

First, there are the health problems – from respiratory distress to autism to short life expectancy – that can affect their physical and cognitive development. And now it’s their social skills.

A USA today article reviews several studies that investigated how being born pre-term can affect a person’s personality. And here – brace yourself – are the bad news:

  • The more premature is an individual as a baby, the less likely he/she is to marry, become a parent or earn a high salary
  • Ex-preemies are less likely to leave home, live together with a partner, or have an active sexual life
  • Ex-preemies are more likely to be inhibited, less adventurous, and would tend to follow social conventions.

According to one of the researchers, these studies suggest that people born prematurely can have “a spectrum of social and emotional difficulties that range in severity from quite mild to severe.”

I have two little boys who were born 5 weeks early. And these studies tell me that my boys are most likely to grow up as sexually-repressed social misfits. Is it any consolation that they are also most unlikely to get divorced, be unemployed or get arrested?

Should I simply believe these scientific findings, give up and just leave my boys’ life to destiny? Or should I and their Dad believe in them and give them all the chances of proving these predictions wrong?

I think every parent’s heart knows the answer.


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