London, Jan 30: A new study has found that the babies born earlier than completion of full term at the time of their birth are more likely to develop childhood asthma.
The worldwide study of more than 1.5 million children found that the risk of developing asthma, or asthma-like symptoms, after a pre-term birth is higher than previously thought, The University of Edinburgh reported in a release.
It also says that the risks of developing asthmatic symptoms are the same for preschool and school-age kids, indicating that children born prematurely do not outgrow the risk.
According to researchers, it is important to better understand why preterm birth leads to asthma, so that early interventions can be developed to prevent childhood asthma among children born preterm.
“Doctors and parents need to be aware of the increased risks of asthma in premature babies, in order to make early diagnosis and intervention possible,” said Jasper Been, of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Population Health Sciences, who led the study in collaboration with Maastricht and Harvard Universities.
“By changing the way we monitor and treat children born preterm, we hope to decrease the future risks of serious breathing problems, including asthma. Our findings should help find better ways to prevent and treat asthma and asthma-like symptoms in those born preterm.”
Babies born more than three weeks before the usual 40-week term early were almost 50 per cent more likely to develop asthma. Those born more than two months early were three times as likely to be affected as babies born at full term.
The statistics was taken from 30 studies of patients from six continents who were born since the 1990s. Most were from western countries, including 14 from Europe and four from Britain.
The findings were published in PLOS Medicine journal.