Premature Birth Can Affect Your Personality and Even Your Love Life


The fact that science can now save the lives of premature babies who are only a bit over halfway through a typical gestation is, without a doubt, a miracle of modern medicine.

But this miracle isn’t perfect. Doctors and parents of these babies have known for some time that the earlier a child exits the womb, the higher their chances of encountering different medical and developmental issues that could plague them into adulthood.


But what about psychological issues?

It turns out that being born prematurely can affect people in untold ways, including many that can’t be seen or tested for while they’re still lying in the NICU.

Now, thanks to a pretty big group of studies – the 21 studies cover 4.4 million adults in 12 countries – we may be starting to understand the potential social impact on these tiny babies once they’ve grown up and attempted to spread their wings.


People who were born short of 37 weeks gestation (considered full term) are more likely to be shy and withdrawn, and that, according to the article published by researcher Dr. Marina Mendonca, has myriad influences on how they relate to others as adults.

They are 28% less likely to report being in a romantic relationship, 22% less likely to have children, and half as likely to have had sex in their early 20s – and the shorter their gestation period, the greater the disparities.

She was quick to point out, too, that the disabilities that can result from preterm birth are not a factor in her findings.

“The finding that adults who were born preterm are less likely to have a partner, to have sex and become parents does not appear to be explained by a higher rate of disability.”


Being born early doesn’t have to lead to a less connected, less satisfying adult life, however. Parents who are raising children born before 37 weeks should just be aware that their child may need some additional help.

“Supporting them making friends and be integrated in their peer group will help them to find romantic partners, have sexual relationships, and to become parents. All of which enhances well-being,” explains lead author Professor Dieter Wolke.

It’s a job that might be tougher than you think, since teenagers who were premature infants are less prone to risk-taking and fun-seeking, suggesting that average teenage behavior isn’t a bad thing when it comes to social outcomes and proper development.


If one thing is clear, it’s that preterm birth is a significant and growing issue, one that can affect not only families and individuals directly impacted, but society as a whole.

One more modern problem to add to our ever-growing list.