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Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 1998 May;9(2):80-90.

Pulmonary function in children with initial low birth weight.

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GSF-Forschungszentrum fuer Umwelt und Gesundheit, Institut fuer Epidemiologie, Neuherberg, Germany.


The objective of this analysis was to examine the effect of low birth weight and prematurity on bronchial air-flow, bronchial reactivity, airway symptoms and asthma diagnosis at school age. A cross-sectional epidemiological study was performed in three small towns in the eastern part of Germany on 2470 school children aged 5-14 (89.1% of eligible children). A 78 item questionnaire to determine risk factors at birth and in early childhood was employed. 7.8% of the children were born before completing 38 gestational weeks; 6.6% had a birth weight less than 2500 g. Pulmonary function analysis were done by a mobile plethysmography at the school. There were only weak restrictions in lung volume in term low birth weight (LBW) children (100 ml lower TLC, p = 0.107), and flow (257 ml lower PEFR, p = 0.108), were low. However, bronchial hyper-responsiveness indicated by 292 ml lower FEV1.0 after cold air bronchial provocation, was significantly increased compared to term normal birth weight children (p < 0.001). The effect of LBW was less in older children, only slightly stronger in girls and increased in children mechanically ventilated during the postnatal period. Correspondingly, there was a higher prevalence of diagnosed asthma in term LBW children (OR 1.6, 95%-confidence interval 1.0-2.6), however these were without an increased risk for any allergic sensitization. LBW, therefore, seems to be a risk factor for smaller lungs and hyperreactive airways primarily in term born children, whereas in preterm children the immature bronchial system seems to be recover by school age.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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