It is a counterintuitive finding, said Dr. Jones. My interpretation is that in preterm infants, supplemental oxygen may be a marker of a less mature lung, which may have a better long term respiratory prognosis than infants with accelerated maturation due to prenatal events such as infection and inflammation.
Maternal tobacco smoking was also associated with lower lung function in both premature and full term infants in both evaluations, suggesting a long lasting effect of smoke exposure on infant lung growth and development. The finding supports a number of other studies that have similarly found that maternal smoking adversely affects lung function in both full term and preterm infants.
While Dr. Jones and colleagues postulate that the preterm infants reduced lung function may be due to airways that do not develop at the same rate as their lung volume, they also highlight other possible explanations, including more compliant airways, increased bronchial tone, or decreased pulmonary elastic recoil, and advocate further research to determine why preterm infants face persistent deficits in lung function..
These subjects have decreased airway function not only in the first few months of life, but also at the one year follow-up evaluation, wrote Dr. Jones. The persistence of reduced expiratory flows in healthy preterm infants may contribute to their increased risk of respiratory illnesses early in life.
|Contact: Keely Savoie|
American Thoracic Society