Pre-term birth and asthma: Preterm birth may increase the risk of asthma and wheezing disorders during childhood

March 7, 2014

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) in Boston, Massachusetts, in collaboration with investigators at the Maastricht University Medical Centre and Maastricht University School of Public Health in the Netherlands and The University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, have published findings strongly suggesting that preterm birth (prior to 37 weeks gestation) increases the risk of asthma and wheezing disorders during childhood and that the risk of developing these conditions increases as the degree of prematurity increases.

The findings are based on a systematic review and meta-analysis of 30 studies that investigated the association between and /wheezing disorders among 1.5 million children. These studies were conducted between 1995 and the present, a time span chosen to allow for recent changes in the management of prematurity.

Across the studies, 13.7 percent of developed asthma/wheezing disorders compared with 8.3 percent of born at term, representing a 70 percent increased risk. Children born very early (before 32 weeks gestation) had approximately three times the risk of developing asthma/wheezing disorders compared with babies born at term.

"Worldwide, more than 11 percent of babies are born preterm," said Aziz Sheikh, MD, corresponding author and Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care at Brigham and Women's Hospital. "As asthma is a chronic condition, our findings underscore the need to improve our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the association between preterm birth and asthma/wheezing disorders in order to develop preventive and therapeutic interventions."

Explore further: Babies born just 2 or 3 weeks early at higher risk of poor health

More information: PLOS Medicine 2014 Jan 28;11(1):e1001596.

Related Stories

Understanding the mystery of preterm birth

November 12, 2013

Researchers at the University of Adelaide's Robinson Institute say there is still a lack of knowledge about the causes of preterm birth and what can be done to prevent it.

Recommended for you

Older people getting smarter, but not fitter

August 31, 2015

Older populations are scoring better on cognitive tests than people of the same age did in the past —a trend that could be linked to higher education rates and increased use of technology in our daily lives, say IIASA population ...

Higher intelligence score means better physical performance

August 14, 2015

New research reveals a distinct association between male intelligence in early adulthood and their subsequent midlife physical performance. The higher intelligence score, the better physical performance, the study reveals. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.