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Low birth weight and future personality

A low birth weight is linked to being shy and having a cautious personality as an adult.

Low birth weight and future personality

A low birth weight is linked to being shy and having a cautious personality as an adult. Recent studies have found personality differences among adult survivors of preterm birth, including higher anxiety, cautiousness and difficulty in forming social ties. To find out how weight at birth affects the personality of the children later in life, researchers from Canada compared 71 extremely low birth weight and 83 normal birth weight young adults. The researchers assessed four components of personality: temperament (shyness and sociability, neuroticism and extraversion), motivation (behavioural inhibition and behavioural activation), cognitive and affective (self-esteem, loneliness) and socialisation. It was found that the adults who had been extremely underweight at birth reported being shyer, having more behavioural inhibition, lower sociability, higher risk-aversion and a greater tendency to follow social convention. The results were the same for both men and women. There were also differences within the extremely-low-birth-weight group, with lower birth weight linked to more shyness, behavioural inhibitions and loneliness, among other traits. The findings suggest that weight at the time of birth can predict future personality traits of individuals.
Pediatrics
August 2008
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