In recent years, the rate of preterm births has risen in many industrialised countries with late preterm births forming a substantial proportion of the preterm births. Late preterm infants are delivered at the immature saccular stage of lung development when surfactant and antioxidant systems are still developing. It is now increasingly recognised that late preterm infants have increased respiratory morbidity in the neonatal period. In addition, late preterm infants are at an increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections in infancy from respiratory viruses such as respiratory syncytial virus. There is a paucity of data reporting lung function in infancy and childhood in late preterm born children. The available data suggest that children born late preterm may be at risk of decreased lung function in later life. However, further studies are required to assess the medium and long term respiratory consequences of late preterm birth.
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