Preterm birth may increase the risk of childhood asthma and wheezing disorders
A new study suggests that the earlier a baby is born preterm the greater the risk is of developing asthma and wheezing disorders during childhood.
The average pregnancy lasts for 37-42 weeks. A baby is preterm if it is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. The earlier a baby is born, the less developed its organs will be, which can cause health problems.
The findings, published in Plos Medicine, are based on a review of 30 studies that investigated the association between preterm birth and asthma/wheezing disorders among 1.5 million children. These studies were conducted between 1995 and September 2013, a time span chosen to allow for recent changes in the management of prematurity.
Across the studies, 13.7% of preterm babies developed asthma/wheezing disorders compared with 8.3% of babies born at term, representing a 70% 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.