Being Born Premature Can Doom You to Lower Income and Self-Esteem

Misfortune can be tied to many things in life. According to a recent study by McMaster University in Canada, being born premature may be the latest factor we can add to the list.


According to the study—which took 165 Canadian males born prematurely between 1977-1982, and 89 normal term babies as a control group—100 of the prematurely-born men now in their 30s “had lower levels of employment, income, and self-esteem, and fewer were married and had children” than their control group counterparts.

The study took into account babies born with “extremely low birth weights” of 2.2 pounds or less. According to this measure, such small weight at birth correlates to babies born approximately two months premature.

On average, premature-born adults in the study earned $20,000 less in income a year on average. To make matters worse, according to the study, they are also 1.95 times more likely to be unmarried and 11.3 times more likely to be virgins than the control group. Unsurprisingly, the men surveyed in this category were reported as having 8.4 times lower self-esteem.

On a slightly more positive note, the premature males in the study tended to attain “similar educational levels and family and partner relationships, and reported fewer risky behaviors compared with controls.”

In the studies’ report, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, lead author and pediatric researcher Dr. Saroj Saigal explained the implications of her study. She emphasized that based on their findings it was “essential that these individuals receive necessary support and continued monitoring throughout life.”

As an added proviso, the study made note of the already established connection between premature birth and developmental issues such as cerebral palsy. Taking this into account, the study noted that those unaffected by such impairment at birth tended to fare better than the rest in terms of employment and marital success. Still, overall the premature group had lower incomes and “statistically significant rates of low self-esteem.”

While this study’s limited sample size is prone to a certain amount of generalizing, its results certainly speak volumes about the challenges a difficult birth may pose for the struggles of life. That said, the report concluded that “overall, the majority of extremely premature adults are living independently and contributing well to society.”

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