In order to draw conclusions, researchers analyzed data from two large studies: Participants from the National Child Development Study were born in 1958 and those from the British Cohort Study were born in 1970. More than 15,000 individuals were followed through adulthood.
Overall, the study revealed that those who had been born preterm had lower wealth at the age of 42 as well as lower educational qualifications. Even after other influential factors (social class, mother's prenatal health, etc.) were accounted for, these individuals were more likely to be unemployed and report financial difficulties when compared to others who were born full-term.
Researchers were even more surprised to find that the majority of individuals had not been born extremely preterm—most were born about five weeks early, co-author Maartje Basten said in the press release about the study.
It was also noted that this association does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
"Our previous research has shown that teachers and educational psychologists receive no training on needs of preterm children," said Dieter Wolke of the University of Warwick in the press release. "Providing this knowledge and developing appropriate interventions could make a big difference for many preterm children and improve their life chances."
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn.