Infants born very prematurely are at greater risk of neurosensory handicaps and developmental problems than are term born children. Premature birth, intrauterine growth retardation, and the combination of both, may also be risk factors for physical disease in adulthood. As this aspect has been little studied so far, we looked into its first signs in the pops-cohort (Project On Preterm and Small for gestational age infants). Prematurity seems to be a risk factor for the development of insulin resistance. The risk is extra high for individuals showing disposition to obesity at later age. Having experienced intrauterine growth retardation even increases the risk. Former premature infants on average show higher mean systolic blood pressure, yet unrelated to degree of intrauterine growth retardation. Renal function (clearance and protein excretion) in young adulthood is less favorable for prematurely born individuals who also experienced intrauterine growth retardation. Prematurely born children show more airway symptoms and poorer lung function in young adulthood. We conclude that neonatal follow up is not only indicated for very premature infants but also for children who experienced severe intrauterine or neonatal growth retardation. Pediatricians ought to inform parents and children as well as the family doctor that prematurity or intrauterine growth retardation may be risk factors for chronic disease at adult age. Active prevention of obesity from an early age onwards is indicated for prematurely born children who experienced intrauterine growth retardation. Family doctors should be extra alert to the development of particularly hypertension and microalbuminuria when these children reach young adult age; a regular check-up for example every two years is recommended. Awareness of their medical history may stimulate the children themselves to prevent obesity, take up sports, and never start smoking.
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||Tijdschrift voor Kindergeneeskunde|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Dec 2006|