A new study shows that babies born prematurely, with very low birth weight will later develop a bigger risk of being introverted, neurotic and lower risk-takers.
We already know that premature born people have a high risk of developing autistic spectrum behaviours. In order to extend the researches on how preterm birth affects adult personality traits, Professor Dieter Wolke of the University of Warwick, UK conducted a study that provides a personality assessment for premature births that may help explaining the possible social difficulties these individuals are exposed to, mostly when it comes to relationships and careers.
“Very premature and very low-birth-weight adults who have a socially withdrawn personality might experience difficulty dealing with social relationships with their peers, friends and partners”, states lead author of the study.
The study compared the personality traits of 200 young people who were born either after less than 32 weeks and/or with a birth weight of less than 1.5 kgs to 197 others who were born in the same hospitals at full term and normal weights. Five different personality traits were aimed for assessment: agreeableness, conscientiousness, introversion, neuroticism and openness to new experiences. The goal was to find out if extreme prematurity and very low birth weight led to a specific personality profile.
The study results reported high rates of agreeableness, introversion and neuroticism and also higher levels of autism spectrum behaviors and lower levels of risk taking for participants who were born very prematurely and/or had a very low birth weight. Researchers concluded that these people tend to have a “socially withdrawn personality”.
“Defining a general personality profile is important because this higher order personality factor may help to partly explain the social difficulties these individuals experience in adult roles, such as in peer and partner relationships and career,” Prof. Wolke states. “If identified early, parents could be provided with techniques to foster their child’s social skills to help compensate for socially withdrawn personality characteristics,” he adds.
The importance of the mentioned study comes from the fact that, in order to improve their adult life, with early intervention from parents and care-takers, the outcomes of poor social life, difficult carrier paths and attitude towards relationships could change for the best for the members of this group of people.