Reproductive risks in 35-year-old adults born very preterm and/or with very low birth weight: an observational study

Sylvia M. van der Pal*, Sanne A. van der Meulen, Sophie M. Welters, Leonhard A. Bakker, Christianne J.M. de Groot, Anton H. van Kaam, Erik (G H.W.). Verrips

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Evidence suggests that increased survival over the last decades of very preterm (VPT; gestational age < 32 weeks)– and very low birth weight (VLBW; birth weight < 1500 g)–born infants is not matched by improved outcomes. The objective of our study was to evaluate the reproductive rate, fertility, and pregnancy complications in 35-year-old VPT/VLBW subjects. All Dutch VPT/VLBW infants born alive in 1983 and surviving until age 35 (n = 955) were eligible for a POPS-35 study. A total of 370 (39%) subjects completed a survey on reproductive rate, fertility problems, pregnancy complications, and perinatal outcomes of their offspring. We tested differences in these parameters between the VPT/VLBW subjects and their peers from Dutch national registries. POPS-35 participants had less children than their peers in the CBS registry. They reported more problems in conception and pregnancy complications, including a three times increased risk of hypertension during pregnancy. Conclusion: Reproduction is more problematic in 35-year olds born VPT/VLBW than in the general population, possibly mediated by an increased risk for hypertension, but their offspring have no elevated risk for preterm birth.What is known:At age 28, the Dutch national POPS cohort, born very preterm or with a very low birth in 1983, had lower reproductive rates than the general Dutch population (female 23% versus 32% and male 7% versus 22%).What is new:At age 35, the Dutch POPS cohort still had fewer children than the general Dutch population (female 56% versus 74% and male 40% versus 56%). Females in the POPS cohort had a higher risk of fertility problems and pregnancy complications than their peers in the Dutch national registries, but their offspring had no elevated risk for preterm birth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1219-1228
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

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