Research News: Adults born extremely preterm at increased risk of heart health issues

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Research published recently as part of the ongoing Victorian Infant Collaborative Study, which has been monitoring a group of Australians since their birth in 1991 or 1992, has shown adults born extremely premature/low birth weight are at increased risk for less favourable cardiovascular health in areas such as blood pressure, exercise capacity, fasting blood glucose and visceral abdominal fat.

The study which is led by CRE in Newborn Medicine Director Professor Jeanie Cheong and published in the journal Hypertension, compared cardiovascular health among two groups of Australians born in 1991 and 1992, as they turned 25 years old. The 165 participants in the first group were born extremely preterm (earlier than 28 weeks' gestation) or with an extremely low birth weight (below 2.2 pounds). The 127 participants in the second group were born at term and at normal weights.

Several factors were examined related to heart health and a cardiovascular health score calculated for each person. Overall, the extremely premature/low birth weight group had a less favorable rating than the term-born group.

Professor Cheong said the findings should not worry individuals born early, but rather act as a reminder of the importance for them to adopt healthy lifestyle choices and closely monitor their health, “something we should all be doing.”

**An extended version of this story appeared on the AHA website here:

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