OBJECTIVE:

We examined if those born late-preterm (at 34 to 36 weeks of gestation) differed from those born at term in their maximum attained lifetime socioeconomic position (SEP) across the adult years up to 56 to 66 years, and in intergenerational social mobility from childhood parental SEP to own attained SEP.

METHODS:

Participants were 8993 Finnish men and women of the Helsinki Birth Cohort Study born between 1934 and 1944. Gestational age was extracted from hospital birth records and socioeconomic attainments from Finnish National Census.

RESULTS:

Compared with those born at term, those born late-preterm were more likely to be manual workers, have a basic or upper secondary level of education, belong to the lowest third based on their incomes, and less likely to belong to the highest third based on their incomes. Late-preterm individuals were also less likely to be upwardly mobile and more likely to be downwardly mobile; they were less likely to have higher occupations and more likely to have lower occupations than their fathers. They were also less likely to be upwardly mobile if incomes were used as the outcome of own attained SEP, and men were more likely to be downwardly mobile if education was used as the outcome of own attained SEP.

CONCLUSIONS:

This study demonstrates that there are considerable long-term socioeconomic disadvantages associated with late-preterm birth, which are not explained by the parent-of-origin SEP.

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