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Preemies More Likely to Develop Asthma, Wheezing

Update Date: Jan 28, 2014 06:08 PM EST

Preemies are more likely to develop asthma and wheezing disorders in childhood, according to a new study.

After conducting a review of 30 studies that involved around 1.5 million children, researchers found that children born preterm are 46 percent more likely to develop asthma or a wheezing disorder during childhood than those born at full-term.

Children born very preterm were at an even higher risk of developing asthma or a wheezing disorder, according to researchers. Researchers found that these children were more than three times as likely to develop asthma or wheezing disorders compared to those born full term.

"The current findings do not support prior suggestions that the association between preterm birth and wheezing disorders becomes less prominent with increasing age [...] Instead, the strength of the association was similar across age groups [up to 18 years], suggesting that the pulmonary consequences of preterm birth tend to persist throughout the life course," researchers wrote in the study.

"There is compelling evidence that preterm birth-particularly very preterm birth-increases the risk of asthma. Given the projected global increases in children surviving preterm births, research now needs to focus on understanding underlying mechanisms, and then to translate these insights into the development of preventive interventions," the added.

The findings are published in the journal PLOS Medicine.

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