An ideal, healthy weight is one of the most important pre-requisites for a newborn to develop into a healthy child and a healthier adult. Generally, underweight newborns require extra care and precautionary measures to ensure proper development.
From feeding the infant more often to taking extra care with hygiene, bringing up an underweight infant can be challenging. Health experts opine that babies that are born with a weight less than normal are exposed to health risks that may include poor physical development, learning difficulties, sluggish immunity, etc. A new research further adds that babies with extremely low birth weight are twice as likely to have psychiatric problems such as depression or attentive-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as adults do.
"Importantly, we have identified psychiatric risks that may develop for extremely low birth weight survivors as they become adults, and this understanding will help us better predict, detect and treat mental disorders in this population," said lead author Ryan Van Lieshout, professor at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.
Researchers at the McMaster University, Canada also found that babies with extremely low birth weight whose mothers received a full course of steroids prior to giving birth are at even greater risk for psychiatric disorders. It was found that they were nearly four and a half times more likely to have the psychiatric issues, and were not protected against alcohol or substance use disorders. On the brighter side, the study explained that the under-weight newly born are less likely than others to have alcohol or substance use disorders as adults.
The study was published in the journal Pediatrics and involved 84 adults who were born underweight - weighing less than 1,000 grams - and 90 normal birth weight babies. The participants were born in Ontario between 1977 and 1982. The research found that in their early 30s, those low birth weight babies were nearly three times less likely to develop an alcohol or substance use disorder. But, they were two and a half times more likely than adults born normal birth weight to develop a psychiatric problem such as depression, an anxiety disorder or attentive-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Inputs from PTI and IANS