A new study found that babies born prematurely can be at increased risk of developing blood pressure problems when they are older.
According to the study, babies born at 37 weeks or younger have an average blood pressure of 120/80mmHg, and babies born after 37 weeks have an additional 125/90mmHG.
It also notes that infants born at 36 weeks have higher blood pressure than their peers.
“Our study suggests that the association between the birth of premature infants and increased blood pressure is not absolute and could be due to individual differences in risk factors and timing of delivery,” said study author and researcher Dr. Jennifer C. Smith.
“We believe that, as a society, we need to be aware of our children’s health and their risk factors, and the importance of avoiding premature birth.”
Smith has conducted research on the effects of birth weight on blood pressure since 2009.
“Birth weight was a critical factor for our study.
Our findings provide a novel insight into the impact of birth on blood flow and physiology, and offer some insight into how to prevent premature birth,” Smith told CBS News.
She said the findings should not be used to predict or avoid premature birth.
“This study provides a better understanding of the impact that birth weight has on blood pressures,” Smith said.
“The impact of low birth weight is far more pronounced in older children, and it can cause complications later in life.
For example, premature infants with birth weight over 100 grams are more likely to have hypertension, and older infants with high birth weight are more prone to cardiovascular disease.”
Birth weight was defined as a newborn weighing more than 34 pounds at birth.
The researchers compared babies born on average 37 weeks of age, with those born between 37 and 40 weeks of life, to babies born between 41 and 45 weeks of the age group.
They found that those born after 41 weeks had a higher blood flow, lower blood pressure and an increased risk for hypertension.
“As more research is conducted to understand the underlying causes of these adverse effects, we will be able to make better choices for infants born prematurely,” Smith concluded.
“However, we are optimistic that the current findings will help inform future research to help reduce the impact on babies and families.”