Toronto: People born as extremely low birth weight babies are twice as likely to have psychiatric problems such as depression, an anxiety disorder or attentive-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as adults than others, researchers have warned.
However, they are less likely than others to have alcohol or substance use disorders as adults, the findings showed.
"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.
The study also found that extremely low birth weight babies whose mothers received a full course of steroids prior to giving birth were at even greater risk for psychiatric disorders.
They were nearly four and a half times more likely to have the psychiatric issues, and not protected against alcohol or substance use disorders, the researchers determined.
The study involved 84 adults who were born weighing less than 1,000 grams, and 90 normal birth weight babies. All 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 with normal birth weight to develop other psychiatric problem such as depression.
The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.