Preemies are no worse off as adults

May 1, 2006

Babies born with extremely low birthweights (ELBW) (1.1 to 2.2 lb)largely overcome their early disabilities and attain approximatelythe same levels of education, employment, and independence byadulthood as normal-weight babies, according to the latest findingsof a 28-year Canadian study.

Babies born with extremely low birthweights (ELBW) (1.1 to 2.2 lb) largely overcome their early disabilities and attain approximately the same levels of education, employment, and independence by adulthood as normal-weight babies, according to the latest findings of a 28-year Canadian study.

Researchers followed just over 300 babies, 166 of whom were born extraordinarily small and 145 of whom were born within the normal range. They compared rates of such outcomes as high school graduation, pursuit of postsecondary education, aspects of employment, independent living, marriage, and parenthood and found no significant differences between the two groups, even when those with disabilities-27% of ELBW babies and 2% of normal weight counterparts-were included.

Members of the ELBW group were, however, less likely to have completed the advanced high school course required for university entry in Canada; and significantly fewer of the ELBW group were enrolled in, or had graduated from, college, but the difference evened out when other forms of postsecondary education were included; more of the ELBW group were unemployed because of chronic illness or disability. Interestingly, ELBW women were doing better overall than ELBW men.