According to a new Swedish study, premature birth may create a risk for high blood pressure later in life.
High blood pressure raises the chances of heart attacks, strokes and other illnesses.
The study by scientists was based on blood pressure tests of 329,495 Swedish men born between 1973 and 1981 and drafted for military service between 1993 and 2001.
It was found in the study that the men born extremely pre-term, at less than 29 weeks, had almost twice the risk of high blood pressure, while men born very pre-term, at 29-32 weeks, had a 45 percent increased risk, and those born moderately pre-term, at 33 to 36 weeks, had a 24 percent increased risk.
According to Stefan Johansson, lead author of the study and a neonatologist at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, the study identified pre-term birth as a new and very early risk factor for high blood pressure, and that risk was particularly high among young men who were born at least eight weeks early.
Johansson says the association between pre-term birth and high blood pressure was unlikely to be explained by family history or genetic factors, and it was more likely to be due to challenges faced by the premature baby.
The study is published in the current edition of the http://www.ahajournals.org/ target=“_blank”>Journal of the American Heart Association.
Revision date: July 9, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD