Objective: To assess long-term pulmonary outcome of a regional cohort of children born at < 32 weeks' gestation compared with a matched term control group.
Study design: All 125 surviving children born at 24 to 31 weeks' gestation during a 1-year period and a sociodemographically matched term control group were evaluated at age 7 years.
Results: Preterm children with previous bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) were twice as likely to require rehospitalization during the first 2 years of life than were preterm children without BPD (53% vs 26%, P < .01). At 7 years of age the BPD group had more airway obstruction than did both preterm children without BPD and the term control group (significantly reduced mean forced vital capacity, forced expiratory volume in 1 second, and forced expiratory flow, 25% to 75% vital capacity, all, P < .001). Lung function among preterm children without previous BPD was similar to that of the term control group. Bronchodilator responsiveness was observed twice as often in preterm children with previous BPD (20 of 43, 47%) compared with preterm children without BPD (13 of 53, 25%) or the term control group (23 of 108, 21%, P < .001). These differences remained significant after adjustment was done for birth weight and gestational age.
Conclusion: Preterm children without BPD demonstrate pulmonary function at school age similar to that of children in a healthy term control group, whereas preterm children with previous BPD demonstrate abnormal pulmonary function.