Getting into a romantic relationship could be harder for you if you were born preterm

New research from the University of Warwick Department of Psychology has found that babies who were born preterm – under 37 weeks gestation – are less likely to form romantic relationships and less likely to become parents.

The study suggests that this is partly due to preterm birth being associated with being shy withdrawn, socially excluded, and a low likeliness for risk-taking in adolescence.

Note: Intimate bonds have been proven to increase levels of happiness and well-being both mentally and physically.

Data analysis from 4.4 million people showed that adults born preterm are 28% less likely to ever be involved in a romantic relationship and 22% less likely to become parents.

Extremely preterm born adults (28 weeks gestation) were 3.2 times less likely to ever have a romantic relationship or a sexual partner, according to the findings.

But despite having fewer close relationships, the study also revealed that when preterm born adults had a partner or friends, the quality of their relationships was at least as strong as that of full-term born adults.

“The finding that adults who were born pre-term 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,” “

Rather preterm born children have been previously found to have poorer social interactions in childhood that make it harder for them to master social transitions, such as finding a partner, which in turn is proven to boost your wellbeing.” said Dr. Marina Goulart de Mendonça of the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick and first author of the paper.

Professor Dieter Wolke, also from the University of Warwick and senior author added:

“Those caring for preterm children, including parents, health professionals, and teachers, should be more aware of the important role of social development and social integration for pre-term children,”

“As preterm children tend to be more timid and shy, 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 wellbeing.”

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