Health In Focus
  • Preterm babies are born before the 37th week of pregnancy
  • Preemies have low birth weight and underdeveloped organs
  • Infants born weighing less than 2.2 pounds (998 grams) are likely to have higher body fat and lower lean mass in adulthood
  • Preemies are at the risk of developing abnormal blood glucose (dysglycemia) in their 30s

A baby born before 37 weeks of pregnancy is a preterm baby. In the United States, one of every ten infants is born prematurely. Preemies weigh much less than full-term babies, and they may have health problems. They require special medical care in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) until their organs can work on their own. A new study claims that extremely premature babies are more likely to develop dysglycemia (abnormal blood glucose) than normal-birth-weight children after they reach the 30's.

Preterm Babies Have Abnormal Blood Glucose

The longitudinal study involved extremely low birth weight (ELBW) babies since their birth at Hamilton Health Sciences between 1997 and 1982. The researchers at McMaster University, led by pediatrics professor Dr. Saroj Saigal followed the health of preterm babies. The study found that about 26 percent of the premature babies are likely to have dysglycemia in their early 30s when compared to 8 percent of the normal birth weight babies.
Preterm Babies Should Keep an Eye on Their Blood Sugars and Weight in Adulthood

Dysglycemia refers to abnormalities in blood glucose levels. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are the two known type of dysglycemia. Other abnormalities of blood sugar levels such as gestational diabetes, prediabetes and drug-related and genetically related abnormalities are other types of dysglycemia.

Babies born with weight less than 2.2 pounds (998 grams) are more likely to have higher body fat and lower lean mass in adulthood, although they have a similar body mass index This is because premature babies are living outside the womb during the developmental period of fat and muscles. Growth and development happen throughout the gestational period, but crucial development takes place in the final months and weeks.

Dr. Katherine Morrison, the principal investigator of the study and an associate professor of pediatrics at McMaster's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, said, "ELBW babies live outside the womb during the most important developmental period for fat and muscle development. We think that might be related to our findings. It's important to know about these potential implications for the ELBW babies, so that we can identify ways to help those born premature counteract these potential influences on their health."

"This is one of the largest and oldest longitudinal studies of extremely low birth weight children, but we are learning how that early start in life impacts them throughout their lives," said Morrison. "We very much appreciate the commitment of these study participants who have helped us with these studies throughout their lives."

The study is published in the journal Pediatrics

Other Health Problems for Preemies

Premature babies are given extra medical attention due to some health problems such as
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome
  • Chronic Lung Disease
  • Apnea and Bradycardia
  • Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)
  • Jaundice
  • Anemia
  • Developmental delay
  • Vision problems
  • Hearing problems
References :
  1. Premature Babies - (
  2. Study shows extreme preemies must watch blood sugars and weight - (
Source: Medindia

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