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Birth weight <1501 g and respiratory health at age 14


AIMS To determine the respiratory health in adolescence of children of birth weight <1501 g, and to compare the results with normal birthweight controls.

METHODS Prospective cohort study of children born in the Royal Women's Hospital, Melbourne. Two cohorts of preterm children (86 consecutive survivors 500–999 g birth weight, and 124 consecutive survivors 1000–1500 g birth weight) and a control group of 60 randomly selected children >2499 g birth weight were studied. Children were assessed at 14 years of age. A paediatrician determined the clinical respiratory status. Lung function was measured according to standard guidelines.

RESULTS Of 180 preterm children seen at age 14, 42 (23%) had bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) in the newborn period. Readmission to hospital for respiratory ill health was infrequent in all groups and the rates of asthma were similar (15% in the 500–999 g birth weight group, 21% in the 1000–1500 g birth weight group, 21% in controls; 19% BPD, 18% no BPD). Overall, lung function was mostly within the normal range for all cohorts; few children had lung function abnormalities in clinically significant ranges. However, the preterm children had significantly lower values for variables reflecting flow. Lung function in children of 500–999 g birth weight was similar to children of 1000–1500 g birth weight. Preterm children with BPD had significantly lower values for variables reflecting flow than children without BPD.

CONCLUSIONS The respiratory health of children of birth weight <1501 g at 14 years of age is comparable to that of term controls.

  • low birth weight
  • respiratory function
  • asthma
  • adolescence

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