Premature babies are less likely to survive in young adulthood, according to the new groundbreaking findings of a study published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Preterm babies (born earlier that 37 weeks of gestation) faced a 38 percent increased risk of death at age 18 to 36 compared to their peers born at full term, according to the research.

The mortality risk associated with born prematurely appeared on early childhood, disappeared after age 5 and then reappeared at age 18, according to the research.

"In young adulthood, gestational age at birth had the strongest inverse association with mortality from congenital anomalies and respiratory, endocrine, and cardiovascular disorders and was not associated with mortality from neurological disorders, cancer, or injury", said researchers at Stanford University in the study.

The news are groundbreaking and important for survivors of preterm birth, their families and doctors as they may need extra care and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Although the new findings are alarming, the absolute risk of death in early adulthood is still less than one person per 1,000 preterm survivors, according to Casey Crump of Stanford University who participated in the research.

The study says that babies who were born even just a couple of weeks early had an increased mortality.

Between 12 and 13 percent of babies in the U.S. are now born preterm and the survival rate has increased fast over the past few decades, Crump said, according to Reuters.