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Pediatrics. 2012 Jan;129(1):e97-e105. doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-0326. Epub 2011 Dec 26.

Aerobic capacity and exercise performance in young people born extremely preterm.

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Department of Pediatrics, Haukeland University Hospital, N-5021, Bergen, Norway.



The goal of this study was to compare aerobic capacity and exercise performance of children and adolescents born extremely preterm and at term, and to relate findings to medical history and lifestyle factors. Potential cohort effects were assessed by studying subjects born in different decades.


Two area-based cohorts of subjects born with gestational age ≤28 weeks or birth weight ≤1000 g in 1982-1985 and 1991-1992 and matched control subjects born at term were compared by using standardized maximal treadmill exercise and pulmonary function tests. Background data were collected from questionnaires and medical records.


Seventy-five of 86 eligible preterm subjects (87%) and 75 control subjects were assessed at mean ages of 17.6 years (n = 40 + 40) and 10.6 years (n = 35 + 35). At average, measures of aerobic capacity for subjects born preterm and at term were in the same range, whereas average running distance was modestly reduced for those born preterm. Leisure-time physical activity was similarly and positively associated with exercise capacity in preterm and term-born adolescents alike, although participation was lower among those born preterm. Neonatal bronchopulmonary dysplasia and current forced expiratory vol in 1 second was unrelated to exercise capacity. Differences between subjects born preterm and at term had not changed over the 2 decades studied.


Despite their high-risk start to life and a series of potential shortcomings, subjects born preterm may achieve normal exercise capacity, and their response to physical training seems comparable to peers born at term.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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