THURSDAY, June 23 (HealthDay News) — New research suggests that the adverse effects of pre-term birth can extend well into adulthood.
She pointed out these stressors produce higher levels of the hormone cortisol, which is involved in the regulation of metabolism, immune response and vascular tone.
Among Sullivan’s findings:
- The less a preemie weighs at birth, the greater the risk. Sullivan found preemies born at extremely low birth weight had the poorest pulmonary outcomes and higher resting blood pressure.
- Premature infants with medical and neurological problems had up to a 32 percent greater risk for acute and chronic health conditions vs. normal-weight newborns.
- Pre-term infants with no medical conditions, particularly boys, struggled more academically. Sullivan found that preemies tended to have more learning disabilities, trouble with math and need more school services than kids who were full-term babies.
- Some children born prematurely are less coordinated. This may be related to brain development and effects of neonatal intensive care, the researchers said.
- Premature infants also tended to have fewer friends as they matured, the team found.
“These findings are important for parents, nurses in the neo-natal intensive care units, teachers and staff in the schools, disability services offices in colleges and primary care providers,” Sullivan said. “By identifying the issues pre-term babies face in childhood, adolescence and through adulthood, we can all be better prepared to take steps to mitigate their effects.”
Because this study is to be presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.