Link discovered between preterm birth and risk of heart disease

Abnormalities in a type of cell involved in blood vessel development and healing may explain why adults who were born prematurely are at increased risk of high blood pressure and other heart alterations, according to new research presented at the American Heart Association's Council on Hypertension 2016 Scientific Sessions.

Researchers at the University of Montreal compared the function of endothelial colony-forming cells (ECFCs) – which help maintain healthy blood vessels – taken from 30 young adults (21-28 years old) born very preterm (less than 29 weeks gestation) and 30 young adults born at term (37 or more weeks gestation). Among the findings:

  • In lab tests, the cells from preterm adults were slower to form colonies, a key step in forming new capillaries;
  • In preterm adults, slower colony formation was associated with two risk factors of heart disease, a higher systolic (top number) blood pressure and enlargement of the heart's left pumping chamber.

Abnormal function of ECFCs has also been associated with early complications of . For example, prolonged oxygen therapy exposure and consequent development of lung disease.

Co-authors include Marie-Amelie Lukaszewski; Ying He; Anik Cloutier; Rong Wu; Jean-Luc Bigras; Bernard Thebaud; Thuy Mai Luu and Anne Monique Nuyt.

This study was funded by an investigator-initiated research award from Merck Sharpe Dohme/University of Montreal.

Explore further

Extreme preemies may be at risk for high blood pressure as adults

Citation: Link discovered between preterm birth and risk of heart disease (2016, September 16) retrieved 18 June 2019 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Sep 16, 2016
Preterm infants receive diminished parental solicitude, the diminished pheromone reception may be the culprit for heart disease. If this is the case, then oral administration of perhaps 250mg of healthy adult facial skin surface lipid pheromone may diminish or completely obscure this risk.

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