Effects of Premature Birth
Thursday, October 2, 2008

The effects of premature birth last long after a baby leaves the neonatal intensive care unit, a study by Norwegian researchers has concluded. Dr. Ed Hill discusses the study in todayís 60 Second Housecall.

The effects of premature birth may last well beyond childhood and affect adult mental and physical health in many ways, according to a Norwegian study.

The study looked at the health and birth records of almost a million adults and found the risk of mental and health disorders ranging from cerebral palsy to mental retardation in adulthood increased significantly with decreasing gestational age at birth.

In the study, researchers analyzed information on infants without birth defects and noted any medical or social disabilities as they matured. Compared with adults who had been born at 37 weeks gestation or later, those who had a premature birth had a much higher risk of a range of medical and social problems.

Researchers found that gestational age at birth was also associated with education level achieved, income and starting a family.

The results suggest a continuous relationship between prematurity and a wide range of medical and social issues and researchers said more study is needed to identify risk factors that predict long-term problems associated with premature birth and then develop preventive strategies.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Iím Dr. Ed Hill.