Trajectories of self-esteem in extremely low birth weight survivors through adulthood
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Although the developmental course of self-esteem has been examined in general population samples, there is a lack of research examining the trajectory of self-esteem in populations who experience unique developmental challenges. We compared the trajectory of self-esteem in extremely low birth weight (ELBW; <1000 grams) survivors and normal birth weight (NBW) controls from mid-adolescence through their early 30s. Self-esteem was reported during three follow-up periods (age 12-16, age 22-26, age 30-35). Adjusting for sex, chronic health problems, socioeconomic status, and social support, no difference was noted in self-esteem in the two groups in adolescence, but birth weight status predicted rate of change of self-esteem from adolescence to adulthood. The NBW controls showed the expected, normative increases in self-esteem from mid-adolescence to young adulthood, while ELBW individuals displayed stable, low levels of self-esteem into young adulthood. Our findings highlight that ELBW survivors may not experience the normative trajectory of self-esteem into young adulthood.
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