Friday, September 11, 2015

Very Low Birth Weight Infants As Adults: How Are Their Lungs Doing?

By: Lewis First, MD, MS; Editor-in-Chief   
David Quitoriano

     We, along with other journals, are finding ourselves publishing more and more studies on long-term outcomes of former preterm infants as they grow and develop.  Recently, thanks to the neonatal inroads made at the start of life, even the highest risk infants are not only surviving, but many are thriving into adulthood.  While we are certainly interested in developmental outcomes of these infants as seen in the myriad of articles published in this area, there is less available about the medical complications of prematurity that may still exist in terms of adult health and wellbeing. 
      Yet this week, Saarenpaa et al. (doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-2651) share with us the results of a longitudinal population of 160 very low birth weight (VLBW) infants and a matched control group in Norway in terms of their pulmonary function when restudied at 18 to 27 years of age.  Infants with and without bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) were separated into their own groups, and yet even without BPD, former VLBW infants who are now adults are showing reduced airflow, increasing their risk for obstructive airway disease as they age.   
      If you have former VLBW infants now growing up in your practice, this is a study to know about and share with the families of those patients, so appropriate attention can be paid for monitoring respiratory status in these patients as they get older and leave your practice.   You and your VLBW patients may breathe more easily learning what this study has to say about the respiratory status of this special population of patients.

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