Babies who are born prematurely may be at increased risk for developing asthma or another type of wheezing disorder later in childhood, a new study finds.
The study reviewed information from 30 previous studies that together included about 1.5 million children (most born after 1995) from six continents, who were followed for time spans ranging from six months to 18 years.
About 14 percent of children born preterm (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) were diagnosed with a wheezing disorder, such as asthma, later in childhood, compared with about 8 percent of children who were born at full term (37 weeks or more). [7 Ways Pregnant Women Affect Babies]
When the researchers took into account factors that might increase the risk of developing a wheezing disorder, such as parental smoking, babies born preterm were still about 46 percent more likely to develop a wheezing disorder in childhood compared with those born at term.
Very premature babies (born at less than 32 weeks of gestation) were nearly three times more likely to develop a wheezing disorder compared with those born at full term.
If no babies in the study had been born prematurely, the researchers estimate that the incidence of childhood wheezing disorders would drop by at least 3 percent.
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