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'Premature babies anxious, withdrawn'

Those born prematurely lack self-confidence and are more prone to depression, says a study.

india Updated: Feb 28, 2006 15:15 IST
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Researchers conducting a study on premature babies have concluded that being born very premature can affect the child's personality in adulthood.

The study was conducted on adults in their late teens born before 33 weeks and compared to those born at full term.

The study published in the American journal Pediatrics said premature babies, particularly girls, were found to be more likely to be anxious and withdrawn, and potentially at a higher risk of depression. The study showed that those born prematurely have low confidence, outgoing personalities, increased anxiety and lower self-esteem.

This could possibly lead to psychological trauma stemming from something highly invasive, like intensive care and should not be ignored.

The researchers, led by psychiatrist Dr Matthew Allin, said the scores suggest being born very premature might predispose someone to the kind of personality likely to develop depression and anxiety disorders.

"It's possible that being born very small might be linked to some damage to the brain, possibly an infection. It might be that being in an incubator makes it difficult to bond with parents, and for them to bond with you. While another possibility is that personality is in the genes to some extent, so could be inherited to some degree," BBC quoted him as saying.

A spokeswoman for Bliss, a premature baby charity, said: "These findings are very interesting. Instead of attributing these findings exclusively to brain function, genetics or upbringing, we would like to see more research into the stress and trauma caused by the intensive care experience itself. The possible effects of psychological trauma stemming from something highly invasive, like intensive care, should not be ignored. This is an area which merits much more research and attention."