Pulmonary function in children with initial low birth weight

Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 1998 May;9(2):80-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3038.1998.tb00308.x.


The objective of this analysis was to examine the effect of low birth weight and prematurity on bronchial air-flow, bronchial reactivity, airway symptoms and asthma diagnosis at school age. A cross-sectional epidemiological study was performed in three small towns in the eastern part of Germany on 2470 school children aged 5-14 (89.1% of eligible children). A 78 item questionnaire to determine risk factors at birth and in early childhood was employed. 7.8% of the children were born before completing 38 gestational weeks; 6.6% had a birth weight less than 2500 g. Pulmonary function analysis were done by a mobile plethysmography at the school. There were only weak restrictions in lung volume in term low birth weight (LBW) children (100 ml lower TLC, p = 0.107), and flow (257 ml lower PEFR, p = 0.108), were low. However, bronchial hyper-responsiveness indicated by 292 ml lower FEV1.0 after cold air bronchial provocation, was significantly increased compared to term normal birth weight children (p < 0.001). The effect of LBW was less in older children, only slightly stronger in girls and increased in children mechanically ventilated during the postnatal period. Correspondingly, there was a higher prevalence of diagnosed asthma in term LBW children (OR 1.6, 95%-confidence interval 1.0-2.6), however these were without an increased risk for any allergic sensitization. LBW, therefore, seems to be a risk factor for smaller lungs and hyperreactive airways primarily in term born children, whereas in preterm children the immature bronchial system seems to be recover by school age.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Common Cold / complications
  • Cough / epidemiology
  • Cough / etiology
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Residual Volume
  • Respiratory Function Tests*
  • Respiratory Sounds
  • Sex Factors
  • Total Lung Capacity