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Expert Rev Respir Med. 2010 Oct;4(5):593-604. doi: 10.1586/ers.10.59.

Preterm birth and respiratory disease in later life.

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Jagiellonian University, 30-663 Cracow, Poland.


Chronic respiratory diseases are a common complication of preterm birth, particularly among very immature infants or those suffering from bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Major progress in the treatment of preterm newborns has changed the pattern of late respiratory complications. The major respiratory problem in infancy and early childhood is respiratory exacerbations caused by infections (particularly viral ones), which need hospitalization. The symptoms become mild in school-age children; however, a group of children still present with chronic airway obstruction defined by recurrent episodes of wheezing and decreased lung function tests (decreased forced expiratory volume). For some preterm infants, particularly those with bronchopulmonary dysplasia, obstructive lung disease persists into adulthood. They are very likely to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or similar disease later in life. In these patients, a program of lung function monitoring and pulmonary prophylaxis by means of elimination of specific risk factors in adulthood is advisable.

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