A Psychiatric Link Between Preemies And Mental Disorders?

Preemies More Likely To Have Mental Disorders

A new study from McMaster University in Ontario has found what appears to be a psychiatric link between premature births and mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and ADHD.

According to NewsMax the published study stated that, “Premature babies born at an extremely low birth weight are 2.5 times more likely to suffer from depression, ADHD, or other psychiatric conditions in adulthood.”

The study goes on to further explain that the link could come from the mother being given steroids before the birth of the baby.

“Unfortunately, extremely low birth weight survivors who may benefit significantly from ACS [antenatal corticosteroids] at birth…may be at an elevated risk of psychopathology in later life.”

The full study looking for a possible psychiatric link, which can be seen on Pediatrics, states that “Those born small for gestational age are at higher risk, but those exposed to antenatal corticosteroids are at the greatest risk of all.”

While the researches have found a possible link between the steroid use and psychiatric disorders, they clearly state that they understand that “ACS is a lifesaving intervention, and even if our findings are replicated, we would advocate for close follow-up of these individuals rather than avoidance of ACS by women presenting with threatened preterm birth.”

So why would they share these findings if they’re still advocating the use of these steroids that could be the link between extremely low birth weight and psychiatric disorders?

Dr. Ryan Van Lieshout, the lead author of the research team for this study, stated, “this understanding will help us better predict, detect and treat mental disorders in this population.”

The study looked at premature, low birth weight babies born from 1977 to 1982 who are now in their 30’s. There were a total of 174 participants in the study, 84 of whom weighed less than 2 pounds, 2 ounces when they were born, with the other 90 participants being born at a normal birth weight.

Studies completed in the past have also found that there is a link between premature babies and having a heightened risk of physical health issues such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.

While there appears to be a psychiatric link between premature births and mental disorders, the good news is that the study also found that the premature babies were less likely to have an alcohol or substance abuse problem.

[Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia]