Researchers at Warwick Medical School in Germany have found that very premature babies tend to grow into withdrawn adults, with personalities that are extremely socially withdrawn. This is indicated in the study by higher levels of introversion and neuroticism, autism traits, and less risk taking. According to psychology department professor and the leader of the study Professor Dieter Wolke “Personality characteristics are very important because they help people to develop into adult roles and form and maintain social relationships. Very premature and very low birth weight adults who have a socially withdrawn personality might experience difficulty dealing with social relationships with their peers, friends, and partners.” The study involved 200 individuals who were born in the years 1985 and 1986, and who were born prematurely before 32 weeks of gestation or who had a very low birth weight of under 3.3 pounds.
The study on premature babies and withdrawn adults indicates that babies who are very premature or who have a very low birth weight have a bigger risk of becoming an adult who has a withdrawn personality. According to Wolke “Defining a general personality profile is important because this higher order personality factor may help to partly explain the social difficulties these individuals experience in adult roles, such as in peer and partner relationships and career. Previous studies have found they are more likely to be bullied at school and less likely to progress to university or attain well paid employment. They are also less likely to form social contacts, to maintain romantic relationships and to have children. If identified early parents could be provided with techniques to foster their child’s social skills to help compensate for socially withdrawn personality characteristics.”