Long-term Psychiatric Impact of Peer Victimization in Adults Born at Extremely Low Birth Weight
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BACKGROUND: While children born at extremely low birth weight (ELBW; <1000 g) are at elevated risk for peer victimization, no research has examined its effects on mental health in adulthood. METHODS: ELBW survivors and matched normal birth weight (NBW; >2500 g) controls were part of a prospective, population-based study in Ontario, Canada. Peer victimization before age 16 was self-reported at age 22 to 26 years by using a 10-point measure. Presence of psychiatric disorders was examined at age 22 to 26 years (ELBW n = 142, NBW n = 133) and age 29 to 36 years (ELBW n = 84, NBW n = 90). RESULTS: After adjustment for confounding variables, for each 1-point increase in the peer victimization score, ELBW survivors had increased odds of current depressive (odds ratio [OR] = 1.67, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.23-2.28), anxiety (OR = 1.36, 95% CI, 1.05-1.76), avoidant (OR = 1.39, 95% CI, 1.08-1.79), antisocial (OR = 1.92, 95% CI, 1.06-2.87), and attention-deficit/hyperactivity (OR = 1.39, 95% CI, 1.06-1.83) problems at age 22 to 26 years. At age 29 to 36 years, peer victimization score predicted increased odds of current panic disorder (OR = 1.69, 95% CI, 1.01-2.83) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OR = 3.56, 95% CI, 1.25-10.09). For NBW controls, peer victimization predicted increased odds of antisocial problems at age 22 to 26 years. CONCLUSIONS: ELBW survivorsand NBW participants are vulnerable to the adverse psychiatric effects of childhood peer victimization in adulthood.
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