Pre-term Babies at Risk of Hypertension

Premature or low birth weight infants may be at a higher risk of high blood pressure as adults

December 30, 2011 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) In addition to immediate health risks and developmental delays, preemies or babies with very low birth weights appear to be at an increased risk of developing hypertension later in life.

Preterm infants born before 37 weeks gestation and babies born weighing less than three pounds appear to develop modestly higher blood pressure as adults.

"Talk to your obstetrician about preventing premature birth."

Femke de Jong, a study leader from the division of neonatology at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, said it was already known that lower birth weight babies because of fetal growth restriction tend to have higher blood pressure later in life, but found preemies and babies with low birth weight for any reason also appear to be at an increased risk of developing high blood pressure as adults.

During the review study researchers examined 27 observational studies comparing resting or ambulatory systolic blood pressure or a diagnosis of hypertension in children, teens and adults born prematurely or with a very low birth weight against babies born full term.

Additionally they conducted a meta-analysis of 10 studies that included 1,342 preterm or low birth weight babies with a mean gestational age of 30 weeks or average birth weight of two pounds and 14 ounces.

At an average age of 18, the preemies and low birth weight babies had blood pressure that was about 3 mm Hg higher than full term infants, leading investigators to conclude that preemies and low birth weight babies are at an increased risk of hypertension as adults.

The review study was published in Hypertension, an American Heart Association journal.

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Review Date: 
December 30, 2011
Last Updated:
December 30, 2011