Background and aims The study aimed to assess the psychosocial developmental trajectory of young adults who were born preterm, by comparing their trajectory with that of peers who receive disability benefits and of peers from the general population.
Methods Young adults from the POPS (Project On Preterm and Small for gestational age infants) cohort study, born in 1983 in the Netherlands, completed online the Course of Life Questionnaire (CoLQ - achievement of psychosocial developmental milestones) at 28 years of age (n = 300). Their scores were compared to the scores of 134 young adults who receive disability benefits (EMWAjong-group), and 211 age-matched peers from the general population (Ref-group), using analysis of variance and logistic regression analysis.
Results The POPS-group scored significantly lower than the Ref-group on Psychosexual Development (effect size -0.26, p < 0.01), Antisocial Behaviour (ES -0.44, p < 0.001) and Substance Use and Gambling (ES -0.35, p < 0.001). Exploration on item-level revealed that the POPS-group had their first boyfriend/girlfriend at later age, were more often single, misbehaved less at school and smoked, drank and gambled less. On the scales Autonomy Development and Social Development no differences were found between the POPS-group and the Ref-group. However, the POPS-group scored significantly better than the EMWAjong-group on these scales.
Conclusions Young adults born preterm showed some psychosocial developmental trajectory delays and might benefit from support at teenage age, especially those receiving disability benefits. Because of non-response bias in the POPS-group the results might be an underrepresentation of the psychosocial developmental problems of young adults born preterm.
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