Effect of preterm birth on growth and cardiovascular disease risk at school age

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Low birthweight is associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in later life, but whether premature birth is also a risk factor for CVD has not been fully determined. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between gestational age and risk factors for CVD at school age.


Using medical check-up data of school children, the relationship between gestational age and height, weight, body mass index, blood pressure, and lipid profiles at ages 9 and 12 years were investigated in children born preterm and admitted to neonatal intensive care unit at birth (n = 182; 115 boys and 67 girls). These data were also compared between preterm small for gestational age (SGA) children and preterm appropriate for gestational age (AGA) children.


Gestational age was positively associated with height, and inversely associated with systolic blood pressure at school age. Preterm SGA children were significantly shorter and lighter at 9 and 12 years of age compared with preterm AGA children, but there were no significant differences in any CVD risk factors between the groups.


In preterm infants, a shorter duration of gestation is associated with higher systolic blood pressure at school age.

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