Aim Preterm birth(<37 gestational weeks) is associated with numerous adversities, however, data on positive developmental outcomes remain limited. We examined if preterm and term born(≥37 gestational weeks) adults differ in dispositional optimism/pessimism, a personality trait associated with health and wellbeing. We assessed if birth weight z-score, neurosensory impairments and parental education modified the outcome. Methods We systematically searched PubMed and Web of Science for cohort or case-control studies (born ≥1970) with data on gestational age and optimism/pessimism reported using the Life- Orientation-Test-Revised in adulthood(≥18 years). The three identified studies(Helsinki Study of Very Low Birth Weight Adults; Arvo Ylppö Longitudinal Study; Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children) provided data for the two-step random-effects linear regression Individual-Participant-Data meta-analysis. Results Preterm and term borns did not differ on optimism(p = 0.76). Preterms scored higher on pessimism than term borns(Mean difference = 0.35, 95%Confidence Interval 0.36, 0.60, p = 0.007), although not after full adjustment. Preterm born participants, but not term born participants, with higher birth weight z-score, had higher optimism scores (0.30 raw score units per standard deviation increase, 95% CI 0.10, 0.49, p = 0.003); preterm vs term x birth weight z-score interaction p = 0.004). Conclusions Preterm and term born adults display similar optimism. In preterms, higher birth weight may foster developmental trajectories promoting more optimistic life orientations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0259463
JournalPLoS One
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal

Fields of Science

  • 6163 Logopedics
  • 515 Psychology
  • 3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health

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