This presentation will focus on “real” life outcomes including health, wealth, crime and risky behaviour and social adaptation. Previous evidence of studies in childhood that suggest that very preterm/very low birth weight (VP/VLBW) children are at higher risk for autism spectrum symptoms and may have more social problems with peers but may be less risky in their behaviour in adolescence. Social integration is a central feature of overall life satisfaction.
The BEST investigated health, wealth, risky and crime behaviour and social relationships from birth to 26 years in VP/VLBW and full term borns. We found that ex-VP/VLBW adults reported significantly lower health, less wealth (e.g. less further education, more often periods of unemployment, less income), and in particular, more social relationship problems with peers (e.g. less friends, less friend support, being bullied more often, less sexual relationships) but equally good relationships and support from their parents compared to full term comparisons. VP/VLBW adults also reported broader spectrum of autism symptoms such as rigidity in daily routines or communication problems more often. However, they were significantly less likely to be involved in risky behaviour or crime. Overall, VP/VLBW adults reported lower quality of life and less life satisfaction and these were related to their poorer social relationships with peers.
VP/VLBW children need more support in forming and maintaining social relationships with peers. No or few friends and failing to partner by early adulthood may increase the burden on parents and on health and social services.