There is a lack of research on individual perceptions of social experiences and social relationships among very preterm (VP) adults compared with term-born peers.


To investigate self-perceived social functioning in adults born VP (<32 weeks’ gestation) and/or with very low birth weight (VLBW) (<1500g) compared with term-born adults (≥37 weeks’ gestation) using an individual participant data (IPD) meta-analysis.


Two international consortia: Research on European Children and Adults born Preterm and Adults Born Preterm International Collaboration.


Cohorts with outcomes assessed by using the Adult Self-Report Adaptive Functioning scales (friends, spouse/partner, family, job, and education) in both groups.


IPD from 5 eligible cohorts were collected. Raw-sum scores for each scale were standardized as z scores by using mean and SD of controls for each cohort. Pooled effect size was measured by difference (Δ) in means between groups.


One-stage analyses (1285 participants) revealed significantly lower scores for relationships with friends in VP/VLBW adults compared with controls (Δ −0.37, 95% confidence interval [CI]: −0.61 to −0.13). Differences were similar after adjusting for sex, age, and socioeconomic status (Δ −0.39, 95% CI: −0.63 to −0.15) and after excluding participants with neurosensory impairment (Δ −0.34, 95% CI: −0.61 to −0.07). No significant differences were found in other domains.


Generalizability of research findings to VP survivors born in recent decades.


VP/VLBW adults scored their relationship with friends lower but perceived their family and partner relationships, as well as work and educational experiences, as comparable to those of controls.

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