McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Young adults report similar quality of life despite very low birth weight

Published: September 5 , 2006
Saroj Saigal
Dr. Sarog Saigal is a professor of pediatrics.

Young adults who were born at extremely low birth weight (less than two pounds) reported a similar quality of life as adults who were born at normal weight, according to a new study by McMaster University researchers published in the September issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Dr. Saroj Saigal, professor of pediatrics of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University, interviewed 143 adults born at an extremely low birth weight, and 130 comparable young adults born at normal birth weight. While those born at extremely low weight reported more limitations in cognition, sensation, mobility and self-care, there were no differences in the mean scores for health-related quality of life between groups, nor between those with and without disabilities.

This positive self-perception is consistent with a previous report by Dr. Saigal on the same participants in which their educational attainment, employment, marital status and independent living were comparable to adults born at normal birth weight.

"There’s a perception that a good quality of life isn’t possible for those with disabilities, but many recent studies have shown that’s untrue," said Dr. Saigal.

"However, children born with disabilities have never known life to be any different, and perhaps they make the necessary adjustments with less of a conscious effort than adults faced with a sudden loss in function. Nevertheless, it should be acknowledged that these adaptations would not be possible without the tremendous parental support."

Despite earlier struggles during childhood and adolescence, a significant majority of those who were of extremely low birth weight appear to have successfully adjusted to their disabilities or limitations by adulthood, and maintain a positive valuation of their quality of life.

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