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Preterm birth linked to higher risk of heart failure

Babies born preterm are more likely to have heart failure during their childhood and adolescence, researchers say.

Preterm babies are more likely to experience heart failure during their childhood and adolescence, researchers say

premature
Very pre-term babies are more at risk than those born 'moderately' pre-term. Picture: iStock

Preterm babies are more likely to develop heart failure during their childhood and adolescence than those born at full term, researchers have found.

The team at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden examined data on 2,664,542 individuals born in Sweden from 1987 to 2012.

Babies born at less than 28 weeks are up to 17 times more likely to develop heart failure than full-term babies

A total of 501 cases of heart failure were discovered.

After being adjusted for factors including maternal characteristics, socioeconomic status and parental incidence of cardiovascular disease, those born ‘extremely’ preterm – less than 28 weeks – were found to be 17 times more at risk of heart failure.

Greater risk

Lead author Hanna Carr said: 'We found that the risk of heart failure was higher for individuals born preterm, and inversely correlated with duration of pregnancy, in that the earlier you’re born, the greater the risk.'

The study, published in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology, showed that children born ‘very’ preterm (28-31 weeks) were three times more at risk, while those born ‘moderately’ preterm – 32-36 weeks – or later had no increased risk.

‘It could be the case that the higher risk of heart failure remains when they grow older.’ said paediatrician Anna-Karin Edstedt Bonamy, who led the project.


Edstedt Bonamy A-K et al (2017) Preterm Birth and Risk of Heart Failure Up to Early Adulthood. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2017.03.572

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