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Preterm and Low-Weight Babies Have High Risk of Lung Disease, Study Says

by | June 1, 2019

According to an international study that was conducted by the University of Melbourne, there has been a link discovered between people who were born underweight or pre-term and future lung disease. With a large sample size, the evidence found in the study is shocking. Continue below to read about what you should know concerning lung disease and pre-term and low-weight babies.

Preterm and Low-Weight Babies Have High Risk of Lung Disease, Study Says
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Preterm and Low-Weight Babies Have High Risk of Lung Disease, Study Says

In a study published in the recent edition of The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, the University of Melbourne collaborated with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute as well as the Royal Women’s Hospital, as well as others in Norway, Finland, the UK and the Netherlands in order to carry out a study showing a link between lung disease and those born pre-term or with a low birth rate. With research gathered from 11 studies spanning data from over 1,650 participants, 722 who were born full term and 935 born pre-term or with low birth weight, it was found that the likelihood of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) was increased in the studied individuals who were not born full term.

COPD is actually a larger term that covers various lung diseases including bronchitis and emphysema and it can lead to a number of complications such as respiratory infections, heart problems, lung cancer, high blood pressure in the lungs, and even depression. COPD obstructs the airflow to an individuals lungs, causing difficulty breathing, coughing and wheezing spells, as well as increased mucus production.

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Preterm and Low-Weight Babies Have High Risk of Lung Disease, Study Says

Professor Lex Doyle, the head researcher in this study, concluded that many of the babies who were born underweight or pre-term had developed breathing problems. He noted how “They go onto have reduced airflow through childhood compared with children born on time or of normal birthweight… As they are now surviving in large numbers with modern obstetric and neonatal care, it’s important to study their breathing ability in adulthood.”

The result of these childhood breathing problems caused by low birth weights and being born pre-term can actually be the culprit of respiratory problems in adulthood. Professor Doyle also notes how both GPs and specialists should “obtain a perinatal history, including gestational age at birth, birthweight, and bronchopulmonary dysplasia” when adult patients come in with respiratory problems or diseases.


The University of Melbourne. “People born very preterm or with very low birth weight have a high risk of lung disease.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 May 2019. <>.

What do you make of the link between preterm and low-weight babies, and lung disease, found in this international study? Let me know in the comments below.

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Gabriella Anaya

News Editor | Limoges, France | [email protected]



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