Negative Effects of Having Premature Baby Seldom Last

Families with low birth weight child have few negative impacts in long term, but jobs may suffer
By Monica Smith
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, June 7 (HealthDay News) -- The negative impacts on mothers and families of having an extremely low birth weight (ELBW) child appear to be minimal by the time the child reaches young adulthood, except for an ongoing negative effect on parents' jobs, according to research published online June 7 in Pediatrics.

Saroj Saigal, M.D., of McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, and colleagues conducted a longitudinal cohort study of parents of young adults born with ELBW to examine the impact of illness and long-term effects of health on that population compared to parents of normal birth weight (NBW) children.

By the time their children reached young adulthood, no significant differences were found between the 130 ELBW mothers and the 126 NBW mothers in marital disharmony, family dysfunction, maternal mood, state anxiety, social support, depression, or maternal physical and mental health. Although significantly more parents of ELBW young adults experienced negative impacts with jobs and educational/training opportunities, mothers of ELBW young adults reported that caring for their child brought the family closer. In addition, the researchers found that significantly more mothers of ELBW young adults with neurosensory impairment reported feeling better about themselves because they had managed their child's care, compared to mothers of children without neurosensory impairment.

"It seems that, by young adulthood, there is a minimally negative long-term impact of having an ELBW child in the family, regardless of the presence of neurosensory impairment," the authors write.

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