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Romantic attachment in young adults with very low birth weight – The Helsinki Study of Very Low Birth Weight Adults

  • R. Pyhälä (a1), K. Räikkönen (a1), A.-K. Pesonen (a1) (a2), K. Heinonen (a1), P. Hovi (a2) (a3), A.-L. Järvenpää (a2), J. G. Eriksson (a3) (a4) (a5) (a6) (a7), S. Andersson (a2) and E. Kajantie (a2) (a3)...


Early attachment relationships from infancy onward contribute to attachment patterns later in life, to the ability to build up close relationships and to well-being in general. Severely preterm birth may challenge the development of these attachment relationships. We studied whether there are differences in attachment patterns related to romantic relationships between young adults (mean age 22.4 years, s.d. 2.2 years) with very low birth weight (VLBW, <1500 g; n = 162) and their peers born at term (n = 172), who completed the Experiences in Close Relationships Questionnaire – Revised. Young adults born at VLBW showed lower attachment-related anxiety than their peers born at term (mean difference −9.5%, 95% CI −16.0 to −2.6) when adjusted for sex, age, parental education and being in a romantic relationship currently. The groups did not differ in attachment-related avoidance. In subgroup analyses, the VLBW women born small for gestational age (SGA, birth weight <−2 s.d.) scored on average 14.8% (95% CI 3.1–26.6) higher than the control women on attachment avoidance. The effects remained after the exclusion of 18 participants with neurosensory deficits. We found no evidence for a compromised attachment pattern in young adults born at VLBW, with a possible exception of women born SGA at VLBW. VLBW adults were rather characterized by a lower level of attachment-related anxiety.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: K. Räikkönen, Institute of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland. (Email


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Romantic attachment in young adults with very low birth weight – The Helsinki Study of Very Low Birth Weight Adults

  • R. Pyhälä (a1), K. Räikkönen (a1), A.-K. Pesonen (a1) (a2), K. Heinonen (a1), P. Hovi (a2) (a3), A.-L. Järvenpää (a2), J. G. Eriksson (a3) (a4) (a5) (a6) (a7), S. Andersson (a2) and E. Kajantie (a2) (a3)...


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