Premature babies will need more care when they reach adulthood, experts warn

Kimberlee Downs
Source: 1News

There are calls tonight for more care when it comes to people born pre-term.

It comes after a New Zealand led study found women born prematurely are almost twice as likely to have high blood pressure by the time they reach 18.

“Those born pre-term have an increased risk of high blood pressure,” Professor Wayne Cutfield from Liggins Institute told 1 NEWS.

“We know now that prematurity is associated with a number of risks.

“Risks of high blood pressure, risk of heart disease, risk of diabetes.”

Mr Cutfield says the link was made when he examined data from more than 5000 Swedish women.

He says this research adds to an existing body of global evidence and previous studies that show men born prematurely have an increased risk too.

The study’s author is careful to emphasise being born prematurely doesn’t mean you will get high blood pressure but says people should be aware of the risk factor, so they can mitigate it.

“[To] make healthier life choices, regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, avoid gaining excess weight.”

A study of a group of New Zealanders born at a very low birth weight found they grew up to have higher blood pressure, but still within a normal range.

“We know you tend to track along your blood pressure, so if you’re a little higher than normal, at 18 years you’re going to be even higher at 30 years,” says Professor of Paediatrics Brian Darlow.

Experts want more awareness from both doctors and patients.

“I think any GP seeing any patient needs to ask what gestation they were at birth,” says Mr Darlow.

Mr Wayne says greater awareness and monitoring would be a great step forward.