According to British researchers, being born very premature can affect a child's personality into adulthood.
Researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry looked at babies born before 33 weeks and compared their development with those born at full-term.
Very preterm birth (33 weeks' gestation) is associated with later neuromotor and cognitive impairment, reduced school performance, and psychiatric morbidity.
Several follow-up studies have demonstrated increased anxiety and social rejection and reduced self-esteem in preterm children and adolescents, but few studies have examined the effects of preterm birth on adult personality.
In this study 108, VPT 18 and 19-year-olds were compared to 67 born at full-term.
The group were given a questionnaire which indicates 3 aspects of personality: extraversion (sociability, liveliness, sensation seeking); neuroticism (anxiety, low mood, low self-esteem); and psychoticism (coldness, aggression, predisposition to antisocial behavior).
The questionnaire included 48 questions such as 'does your mood ever go up or down?' and 'do you enjoy co-operating with others?'
The researchers found that premature babies, in particular girls, were more likely to be anxious and withdrawn, and potentially at a higher risk of depression, and birth weight was also weakly associated with increased lie scores.
Those born prematurely also appeared to have lower levels of a personality trait called 'extraversion', indicating that they may have less confident and outgoing personalities.