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Problems From Preterm Birth May Return in Adulthood
Date:9/20/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Sept. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Young adults who were born prematurely may not give the circumstances of their birth much thought, but a new study finds that health problems may re-emerge decades later and raise their risk of death for some time.

From 18 to 36 years of age, people who were born preterm face up to twice the risk of death compared to young adults born at a normal gestational age, the researchers found. They also noted that preemies have an increased risk of death from birth until age 5 years, but that association was less surprising.

"We found that people who were born preterm had a higher risk of dying than people born full-term. Even [those born] a couple of weeks early had an increased mortality in young adulthood," said the study's lead author, Dr. Casey Crump, a clinical assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University in California.

"In young adulthood, each additional week of pregnancy resulted in a 4 percent reduced risk of dying as a young adult," he added.

However, any individual's risk of dying was still low. Even those who were born between 22 and 27 weeks' gestation had less than a 1 percent risk of dying as a young adult, according to the study, published in the Sept. 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Kenneth Bromberg, chairman of pediatrics at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City, said that on an individual level, those who might be more at risk may already be aware of that risk. "Some of these kids with congenital anomalies, like heart defects, are already aware of their problems. What we can't tell from this kind of large population data is if there are other ill-defined problems," he said.

Besides congenital abnormalities, the association was seen with deaths from respiratory, cardiovascular and endocrine problems, but not cancer, neurological disorders or accident
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