Environmental exposures and respiratory morbidity among very low birth weight infants at 1 year of life

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Abstract

Introduction:

Preterm infants have a substantially increased risk of developing respiratory illnesses. The goal of this study was to consider the impact of modifiable postnatal exposures on respiratory morbidity among a cohort of very low birth weight (VLBW) infants.

Objectives:

(1) Assess the rates of respiratory morbidity and exposure to indoor respiratory triggers in a population of VLBW infants at 1 year; (2) determine the association between exposures and respiratory morbidity.

Methods:

We enrolled 124 VLBW infants into a prospective cohort study. Parents were called at 1 year to assess respiratory outcomes and environmental exposures. We used bivariate and multivariate analyses to assess the relationship between environmental exposures and acute care for respiratory illnesses.

Results:

At 1 year, 9% of infants had physician-diagnosed asthma, 47% required ≥1 acute visit and 11% required hospitalisation for respiratory illness. The majority of infants (82%) were exposed to at least one indoor respiratory trigger. Infants living with a smoker (61% vs 40%) and infants exposed to pests (62% vs 39%) were more likely than unexposed infants to require acute care for respiratory problems. In a multivariate regression controlling for demographics, birth weight, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and family history of asthma or allergies, both living with a smoker (OR 2.62; CI 1.09 to 6.29) and exposure to pests (OR 4.41; CI 1.22 to 15.94) were independently associated with the need for acute care for respiratory illnesses.

Conclusions:

In this sample, respiratory morbidity and exposure to triggers were common. VLBW infants may benefit from interventions that decrease exposure to respiratory triggers.

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