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Premature Babies More Likely to Have Fewer Friends, Study Suggests

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Researchers report that premature babies are less accepted and make fewer friends than kids who are born full-term. According to the University of Warwick, during early childhood, premature babies make fewer friends and spend less time socializing with other kids.

The study, which analyzed more than 1,000 children, found that kids who were born before 32 weeks had four friends, on average. Full-term babies who were born between 37 and 41 weeks would have five friends by the time they’re six years old. The parents of the children born premature also admitted that their little ones were less accepted by their friends. However, by the time all the children reached eight years old, the premature babies manage to catch up with the other children. They all reportedly had around six friends each.

Unfortunately, the research also reports that though premature babies have more friends by the time they’re eight, they see their friends 15 percent less that the other kids who were born full-term. The study also discovered that children who had poorer motor abilities, poorer cognitive abilities, and more emotional problems had fewer friends and were less accepted by them. Boys; children from bigger families; kids who have a poor relationship with their parents during infancy; and children with cognitive, motor, or behavior problems, are also less accepted.

Professor Wolke, who led the study, advised: “Entering school increases social networks and should be a consideration when contemplating delaying school entry for preterm children. Although most preterm children catch up with their full term peers during early elementary school, future interventions to improve friendships and social interaction skills should start before school entry to prevent later psychopathology and behavior problems.”

This post was written by Eden-Olivia Lord. For more, check out our sister site Closer.

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