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Pediatr Res. 2007 Mar;61(3):329-34.

Abnormal circulatory stress responses of preterm graduates.

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Department of Women and Child Health, Neonatal Unit, Karolinska Institute, S-171 76 Stockholm, Sweden.


Preterm birth and chronic lung disease may increase the risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease in infancy and adolescence. Here we looked for evidence of early circulatory dysfunction associated with these perinatal complications. We compared infants born at term (n = 12) with those born preterm with an uncomplicated neonatal course (n = 12) or diagnosed with bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) (n = 10). We measured blood pressure (BP) (Finometer), and heart rate (HR) responses to 4 min of breathing 4% CO2 during quiet sleep. Hypercapnia accelerated HR and increased BP of term infants. Preterm infants either (i) had an exaggerated pressor but little or no HR response to CO2 (healthy or mild-moderate BPD) or (ii) had a diminished pressor response and accompanying decrease in HR (severe BPD). Short-term reflex cardiovascular control was consequently altered by premature birth, with potentially more serious aberrations associated with severe BPD. Most anomalies had not resolved by the time infants born preterm reached term age; some may be early signs of emerging long-term cardiovascular dysfunction.

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