(Good Medical Health) – Even though babies are born "at term," a large study suggests that those who spend fewer weeks in the womb are always less likely to obtain a university degree and "get pregnant." get a good paying job.

In Denmark, in the analysis of 228,030 single births, children born after only 38 weeks of pregnancy were 15% less likely than those born at 40 weeks to have studied beyond high school or to be in school. one of the main sources of income for the study.

"While adults born between 35 and 38 weeks of gestation had only a slightly lower chance of earning a high income and having a high level of education, this could have a significant impact as a percentage high (about 10%) of all children were born during these weeks, "The study's lead author, Josephine Funck Bilsteen, from the University of Copenhagen and Hvidovre University Hospital in Denmark.

Pregnancy normally lasts about 40 weeks and babies born after 37 weeks of gestation are considered full-term infants. Babies born prematurely – earlier than 37 weeks – often have difficulty breathing and digesting food in the weeks immediately following birth. These premature infants may also face long-term challenges, such as impaired vision, auditory and cognitive abilities, as well as social and behavioral problems.

"Previous research has shown that adults born before term are more likely to have lower education levels and lower incomes than full-term adults," Bilsteen said via e-mail. "However, far less is known about the differences in education and income among adults born at different weeks of gestation during the period."

To examine this question, the researchers examined data on babies born in Denmark between 1982 and 1986.

As expected, the first premature babies had the worst. Compared to infants born at 40 weeks, babies born between 22 and 27 weeks of gestation were 79% less likely to have an education beyond high school and 34% less likely to be among the highest wages in the world. Study, reported JAMA researchers. Open network.

Just a week could make a difference. Babies born at 39 weeks were still slightly less likely to succeed academically or financially than babies who arrived at 40 weeks.

These estimates consider other factors that may have an independent impact on gestational age and adult outcomes, including gender and year of birth, as well as maternal age, educational attainment, and age. native country.

However, the study was not designed to demonstrate whether, or to what extent, gestational age can have a direct impact on educational or economic outcomes in adulthood. It is possible, for example, that gestational age reflects another individual or family factor that also influences socio-economic outcomes.

One of the limitations of the study is the risk that gestational age is inaccurate for some babies, because doctors may use different methods to estimate the timing of the baby's conception and may classify infants in some cases, depending on the authors of the study.

"I would suggest to parents to take these conclusions with a grain of salt," said Margaret Kern, a researcher at the University of Melbourne in Australia, who was not involved in the study.

"An early birth does not condemn a child to failure in the world if this is defined as economic success, which I would question," Kern said by e-mail. One in five babies arrive early and many of them are successful in adulthood, she added. "It is therefore obvious that there are many successful cases on which to support it.

Although parents can not control the arrival of their babies, they should bear in mind the risk of negative consequences when they plan a voluntary caesarean delivery, said Dieter Wolke, researcher at the University of Warwick in the UK, who did not participate in the study. .

Babies who arrive early, even at the end of what is considered term, may be more shy or withdrawn and have trouble attracting attention and participating in school, Wolke said via email.

SOURCE: bit.ly/2H4E0D3 JAMA Network Open, online December 14, 2018.