Mental Health problems are more likely in premature babies, research suggests.

Premature and very low birth weight babies are high risk for developing social difficulties as children, with anxiety and depression also developing and sometimes continuing into adulthood.

These findings come from 41 studies published (read the whole article via the link at the end) over the last 26 years.  The study incorporates data from 12 countries involving 13000 children, and follows on from previous research which suggested pre-term babies, especially those with a low birth weight, are more prone to autism and, as they grow older, relationships can also be problematic.

‘Daniel Smith, professor of psychiatry at the University of Glasgow, said the findings were important because mental health issues that occur in childhood are a strong predictor of psychiatric disorders in adulthood.

“There is a strong case for assessing, on a regular basis, the mental health status of these children, so that early intervention approaches might be implemented sooner rather than later, with a view to minimising future mental health problems,” he said. “It is my understanding that children who are born with an extremely low birth weight are routinely assessed for physical health problems in childhood but not currently for mental health problems. This paper suggests that this situation should change.” (From the Guardian online 13/2/17.  Journalist Ian Sample)

Whilst this research is laudable and will no doubt give us a greater insight into what may happen with the mental health of pre-term babies as they develop into children and adults, we need research across ALL society sectors – full term babies born in poverty for example, full term babies born into violent family units, children who are fostered and/or adopted – there are many groups where research is necessary in order that we, as a society, can better understand one another and better understand the roots of mental illness where at all possible.


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