Risk of asthma increases as the degree of prematurity increases, finds study.
The findings are based on a systematic review of 30 studies that investigated the association between pre-term birth and asthma/wheezing disorders among 1.5 million children.
Worldwide, more than 11 percent of babies are born premature.
Across the studies that ranged a time span from 1995 to present, 13.7 percent of premature babies developed asthma or wheezing disorders compared with 8.3 percent of babies born at term, representing a 70 percent increased risk.
"Children born very early - before 32 weeks gestation - had approximately three times the risk of developing asthma/wheezing disorders compared with babies born at term," the study showed.
"As asthma is a chronic condition, our findings underscore the need to improve our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the association between preterm birth and asthma/wheezing disorders in order to develop preventive and therapeutic interventions," said Aziz Sheikh of Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) in Boston, US.
The study results were published by researchers at BWH in collaboration with investigators at the Maastricht University Medical Centre and Maastricht University School of Public Health in the Netherlands and The University of Edinburgh in Britain.