Preterm births are associated with a number of other concerns and additional costs. Now, a latest study published in the journal Psychological Science suggests that babies, who are born prematurely, tend to accumulate less wealth as adults, partially because they lack intelligence and mathematical abilities.
According to a team of scientists from the University of Warwick in the U.K., premature babies lack academic abilities during their childhood. The lagging intelligence hinders higher educational attainment in them, leading to accumulation of less wealth as adults.
"Our findings suggest that the economic costs of preterm birth are not limited to healthcare and educational support in childhood, but extend well into adulthood," said study researcher and psychologist Dieter Wolke, in a press release. "Together, these results suggest that the effects of prematurity via academic performance on wealth are long term, lasting into the fifth decade of life."
During the study, the research team studied the data for two previously conducted longitudinal, large studies -- the National Child Development Study of 1958 and the British Cohort Study of 1970. Both the studies recruited children born in a single week in Scotland, Wales and England as their subjects and followed these children through their adulthood.
Wolke and his colleagues specifically looked at children born between 28 and 42 weeks of pregnancy. The income data for the subjects when they had turned 42 was also available with the researchers. The study team looked at the social, employment and economic status of the participants, in addition to their families and housing situation.
The researchers then analyzed the collated data against the mathematical and reading ability of each subject. The team discovered that those, who were born prematurely had lower income and academic abilities than those born a normal term. Premature babies were more likely to remain unemployed or take up a job of a worker, as compared to their counterparts born full-term.
With more than 15 million children born prematurely around the world, the researchers are hopeful that the study findings will help parents and educators design special methods to pay attention to such children.