Background: Advances in perinatal medicine have increased infant survival after very preterm birth. Although this progress is welcome, there is increasing concern that preterm birth is an emerging risk factor for hypertension at young age, with implications for the lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease.
Methods and results: We measured casual blood pressures (BPs) in a population-based cohort of 6-year-old survivors of extremely preterm birth (<27 gestational weeks; n=171) and in age- and sex-matched controls born at term (n=172). Measured BP did not differ, but sex, age-, and height-adjusted median z scores were 0.14 SD higher (P=0.02) for systolic BP and 0.10 SD higher (P=0.01) for diastolic BP in children born extremely preterm than in controls. Among children born extremely preterm, shorter gestation, higher body mass index, and higher heart rate at follow-up were all independently associated with higher BP at 6 years of age, whereas preeclampsia, smoking in pregnancy, neonatal morbidity, and perinatal corticosteroid therapy were not. In multivariate regression analyses, systolic BP decreased by 0.10 SD (P=0.08) and diastolic BP by 0.09 SD (P=0.02) for each week-longer gestation.
Conclusions: Six-year-old children born extremely preterm have normal but slightly higher BP than their peers born at term. Although this finding is reassuring for children born preterm and their families, follow-up at older age is warranted.
Keywords: follow‐up study; hypertension; pediatrics; preterm birth.
© 2017 The Authors. Published on behalf of the American Heart Association, Inc., by Wiley.