London | Parents of very premature babies are more worried about their grown up children’s lives than those whose babies were born full term, a new study has found. Researchers at University of Warwick in UK and University Hospital Bonn in Germany compared the perception of parents whose children were born very preterm with a control group born at term.
They also analysed the opinions of their children. The participants and their parents were asked when they were 13 and then as adults at age 26. In the study 260 individuals born very preterm (at 31 weeks or less) or with very low birth weight (less than 1,500 grammes) were compared to 229 who were born full term. Previous work had suggested that the health-related quality of life of preterm born individuals may decrease as they reach adulthood, said study first author Nicole Baumann, from the University of Warwick.
However, this study found while quality of life improves for term born adults it remains lower for preterm born participants, Baumann said. Very preterm individuals are at risk for health problems and lower health-related quality of life in childhood, said Peter Bartmann, researcher at the University Hospital Bonn.
The researchers looked at health-related issues such as vision, hearing, speech, emotion, dexterity and pain. They asked questions relating to these such as ‘are you able to recognise a friend on the other side of the street?’ and ‘are you happy and interested in life?’.
The researchers also found that participants with lower and parent-perceived health-related quality of life had more periods of unemployment, more often received social benefits, had fewer friends and were less likely with a partner. There is a positive element to the study, researchers said.
It indicates that preterm participants do not believe that their health-related quality of life gets worse between age 13 and 26, even though their parents believe the quality does diminish, particularly in pain and emotion.