Premature babies at risk of poor health

A research paper which demonstrates that premature babies born even just a few weeks early have worse health outcomes than full term babies has been published on bmj.com.

The authors, from the Universities of Leicester, Liverpool, Oxford, Warwick and the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit studied over 18,000 British babies born between September 2000 and August 2001. Health outcomes were studied when the infants reached nine months, three years and five years.

Health outcomes assessed included height, weight and BMI, whilst parents also reported on number of hospital visits, long-standing illness, disability or infirmity, wheezing, use of prescribed medication and overall rating of child's health.

The authors report that both moderate / late preterm (32-36 weeks) and early term (37-38 weeks) babies required re-admission to hospital in the first few months more often than full term babies (39-41 weeks). Those born between 33 and 36 weeks had an increased risk of asthma and wheezing compared to full term babies.

Premature babies and health problems

A strong correlation was found between decreasing gestation and increasing risk of poor health outcomes. The greatest contribution to disease at the age of both three and five was being born moderate / late preterm or early term.

The study discovered that mothers of children born at less than 37 weeks were more likely to be single, less likely to have educational qualifications or work in managerial positions. Mothers of very preterm babies were more likely to smoke and less likely to breast feed for four or more months than those delivered at or beyond 37 weeks.

The authors conclude that it is inappropriate simply to group babies as preterm or term as the study demonstrates a "continuum of increasing risk of adverse outcome with increasing prematurity, even approaching full term gestation". They argue for further explanation of factors that influence health outcomes for babies born between 32-38 weeks gestation to inform the provision of obstetric services and planning and delivery of healthcare services for children in early life.   - (EurekAlert, March 2012)

Read more:
Premature birth a precursor of problems
Premature birth tied to ADHD

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Who do you think should accept responsibility for the dire state of Eskom’s power system?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Eskom’s current management must take the fall
4% - 176 votes
Previous bosses from Zuma years are to blame
32% - 1608 votes
Mantashe and govt have been asleep at the wheel
31% - 1541 votes
There are many culprits; it’s a complex situation
33% - 1646 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.34
-0.9%
Rand - Pound
21.28
-1.2%
Rand - Euro
18.29
-0.9%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.79
-1.4%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-1.1%
Gold
1,798.42
+0.5%
Silver
23.51
+1.9%
Palladium
1,963.16
+1.7%
Platinum
1,025.76
+1.6%
Brent Crude
76.15
-1.3%
Top 40
68,351
+0.1%
All Share
74,548
+0.1%
Resource 10
73,315
-0.7%
Industrial 25
92,605
+1.0%
Financial 15
15,401
-0.9%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE