Background/aim Adverse perinatal outcomes have been associated to increased risk for illness later in life. Inflammation has been implied to be an underlying mechanism for such associations. Whether preterm birth would increases infections and inflammatory responses during childhood is not known.
Design/methods The study included 105 prepubertal children: 39 born preterm (preterm, <32 weeks) 29 born term but small for gestational age (SGA) and 37 born term with normal birth weight (control). Medical history, physical examination and blood samples were obtained.
Results History of infections during childhood requiring medical attention, was more frequent in preterm (46% in preterm, 24% in SGA and 13% in control, p<0.006). Preterms had higher WBCs (6.4±1.5, 6.1±2.1 and 5.5±0.9×109 respectively, p<0.05), higher HCTs (40.5±2.5, 38.6+2.1 and 38.8±2.1%, p<0.003), higher hemoglobin (139±8.5, 133±6.4 and 133±6.8 g/L, p<0.0003) and higher RBCs (5.0±0.3, 4.6±0.3 and 4.7±0.3×109, p<0.0003) but no significant differences in PLTs (302±59, 285±82 and 283±60×109). MCV was significantly lower in preterms compared to SGA but not to control (81.3+2.8, 83.3+3 and 82.6+3.8). No differences were found between the groups for the inflammatory markers hsCRP or SAA. In children with a higher incidence of infections no differences were found in hsCRP, SAA or any blood cell parameters.
Conclusion Children born preterm have a history of more infections requiring medical attention during childhood but no association was found with the higher WBCs. We speculate that hemoconcentration and increased WBCs could be due to sympathoadrenal stimulation.