Physical Activity in 6.5-Year-Old Children Born Extremely Preterm

J Clin Med. 2020 Oct 4;9(10):3206. doi: 10.3390/jcm9103206.


Physical activity (PA) can prevent cardiovascular diseases. Because of increased risks of impairments affecting motor activity, PA in children born preterm may differ from that in children born at term. In this prospective cohort study, we compared objectively measured PA in 71 children born extremely preterm (<27 weeks gestational age), to their 87 peers born at term, at 6.5 years of age. PA measured with accelerometer on the non-dominant wrist for 7 consecutive days was compared between index and control children and analyzed for associations to prenatal growth, major neonatal brain injury, bronchopulmonary dysplasia and neonatal septicemia, using ANOVA. Boys born extremely preterm spent on average 22 min less time per day in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) than control boys (95% CI: -8, -37). There was no difference in girls. Amongst children born extremely preterm, major neonatal brain injury was associated with 56 min less time in MVPA per day (95%CI: -88, -26). Subgroups of children born extremely preterm exhibit lower levels of physical activity which may be a contributory factor in the development of cardiovascular diseases as adults.

Keywords: accelerometry; brain injury; cardiovascular risk; exercise; extremely premature; follow-up studies; infant; neonatal sepsis; prospective studies.