Background and aim Preterm birth has been associated with myocardial remodelling, arrested vascular growth, higher blood pressure and ventricular hypertrophy later in life. The aim of this study was to evaluate arterial dimensions and intima media thickness in 6-year-old children born extremely preterm.
Method Children born extremely preterm (EXP; <27 weeks of gestation) in Sweden 2004 to 2007 and matched controls born at term were included. The end-diastolic diameter of the abdominal aorta (AAD) and common carotid artery (CCAD) and carotid intima media thickness (CIMT) were determined by ultrasonography. Blood pressure, weight and height were also measured.
Results EXP-children (n = 88; mean GA 25.1 w; BW 817 g) were significantly shorter than controls (mean heights 117.8 and 122.8 cm, p < 0.001). AAD was 8.8 mm in EXP and 8.9 mmin controls (n.s). CCAD was larger (5.5 mm) in EXP than in controls (5.2 mm; p < 0.01) after adjusting for body surface area (BSA). CIMT was 0.62 mm in EXP and 0.54 mm in controls (p < 0.001) adjusted for BSA. Unadjusted systolic blood pressure was 2.2 mmHg lower in EXP compared to controls (p < 0.05) but this difference disappeared after taking length into account.
Conclusion The CCAD but not the AAD was significantly wider and the carotid intima media was thicker in 6-year-old children born extremely preterm as compared to age matched controls at term.
Further vascular follow-up at older age is warranted and analyses of carotid strain using two dimensional speckle tracking are underway.