Babies born very prematurely have more chances to grow up into introverted, neurotic, and risk averse adults.
In the experiment, the researchers compared the personality traits of 200 26 year olds who were born severely underweight with those of 197 young people who had been born within the normal weight range.
Personality traits were assessed at the age of 26 across five dimensions: introversion; neuroticism levels of openness to new experiences; agreeableness; and conscientiousness.
Adults who were born very prematurely, scored significantly higher than their peers born at term, except in two of the personality traits, conscientiousness and openness, and also reported significantly higher levels of introversion, neuroticism, and agreeableness.
According to the researchers, this cluster of traits described a “socially withdrawn personality” or someone who’s easily worried, less socially engaged, less interested in risk taking, and less communicative.
The researchers also stated that these evidence showed that many adults born very premature were less likely to go on to higher education or get well paid jobs and they find it harder to make friends, find long term partners, and become a parent.
The story is published in the online journal of Archives of Disease in Childhood.