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‘Premature short babies more vulnerable to chronic lung disease’
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2019.07.29 12:04
  • Updated 2019.07.29 17:29
  • comments 0

Researchers at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital have discovered that premature infants with short height have a higher chance of suffering from chronic lung diseases.

Professors Jung Young-hwa (left) and Choi Chang-won

The team, led by Professors Jung Young-hwa and Choi Chang-won, examined the relationship between birth weight and height, and risk of developing chronic lung disease in 4,662 low-birth-weight infants (less than 1,500 grams) who were born 23 to 31 weeks into conception. The researchers used the 2013-2015 data from the Korean Neonatal Network in their research.

The results showed that the lower the height at birth, the higher the risk of developing chronic lung disease after birth. Also, this phenomenon was more prominent in very premature babies born before 29 weeks.

Chronic lung disease in infant, which is also known as bronchopulmonary dysplasia, causes respiratory distress syndrome and requires infants to receive postnatal respiratory or oxygen therapy.

If the symptoms are severe, the hospital cannot easily remove the ventilator, while the period of hospital admission and the risk of death can increase. If the patient uses artificial respiratory therapies for a long time, it also may damage their brain.

In recent years, factors such as advanced maternal age and twin pregnancies, have led to an increase in intrauterine growth restriction, which keeps the fetus does from growing properly in the uterus. It also can cause the pregnancy to end or give premature birth.

“It is important to control the condition of the mother and monitor the growth of the fetus as the intrauterine growth restriction can occur due to various causes such as a problem with the placenta, maternal hypertension, and the fetus itself,” Professor Choi said. “As short premature babies have an increased risk of developing chronic lung disease, their treatment in the neonatal intensive care unit may increase.”

If a patient needs to give premature birth due to intrauterine growth restriction, the hospital recommends that they give birth at a medical institution equipped with intensive respiratory therapy personnel and equipment, Choi added.

PLOS ONE published the results of the study.


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