Right Heart Structure, Geometry and Function Assessed by Echocardiography in 6-Year-Old Children Born Extremely Preterm-A Population-Based Cohort Study

J Clin Med. 2020 Dec 31;10(1):122. doi: 10.3390/jcm10010122.


Preterm birth has been associated with altered cardiac phenotype in adults. Our aim was to test the hypothesis that children surviving extremely preterm birth have important structural or functional changes of the right heart or pulmonary circulation. We also examined relations between birth size, gestational age, neonatal diagnoses of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) and patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) with cardiac outcomes. We assessed a population-based cohort of children born in Sweden before 27 weeks of gestation with echocardiography at 6.5 years of age (n = 176). Each preterm child was matched to a healthy control child born at term. Children born preterm had significantly smaller right atria, right ventricles with smaller widths, higher relative wall thickness and higher estimated pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) than controls. In preterm children, PVR and right ventricular myocardial performance index (RVmpi') were significantly higher in those with a PDA as neonates than in those without PDA, but no such associations were found with BPD. In conclusion, children born extremely preterm exhibit higher estimated PVR, altered right heart structure and function compared with children born at term.

Keywords: echocardiography; myocardial performance index; patent ductus arteriosus; preterm infant; pulmonary arterial hypertension; right atrium; right ventricle.