Being born prematurely can have a lasting impact on a person's life. While some babies may not experience any major medical or neurological conditions, they may still suffer from long-term effects such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation, visual and hearing impairments, and health and growth problems. Prematurity can also cause learning difficulties, social issues, and heart-related problems in adulthood. Detecting and treating health problems as early as possible and preventing preterm births when possible can help babies live longer, healthier lives.
Research on the long-term consequences of prematurity is limited; however, studies have shown that premature babies are more likely to have difficulty in school and social situations, be less healthy, and have more heart-related problems as adults. The stress response triggered by premature birth is characterized by higher levels of the hormone cortisol. Risk factors for
preterm birthinclude preterm birth in the past; multiple pregnancy; tobacco use and substance abuse; and the short time (less than 18 months) between pregnancies. Most Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) offer follow-up clinics for parents of premature babies from the time they leave the NICU until their second or third year of life.
Visceral fat accumulation is highly inflammatory and excess fatty acid outflow damages healthy tissue, especially in the liver and pancreas of people born with an extremely low birth weight. When it comes to developmental milestones, premature babies may be at a slight disadvantage but can still catch up with the right support. Studies have found that premature babies who had their mothers defend them at school performed better academically, socially, and physically. Otherwise, healthy adults who are born prematurely show a weakened cardiac response to exercise, suggesting early heart dysfunction.
The ejection fraction was 6.7% lower in the preterm group compared to those born at term with an exercise capacity of 60%. An increase in left ventricular mass with an increase in wall thickness and a reduction in luminal diameter have also been reported in young adults who were born prematurely.The long-term effects of being born prematurely can vary from person to person but can include cerebral palsy, mental retardation, visual and hearing impairments, health and growth problems, learning difficulties, social issues, heart-related problems in adulthood, visceral fat accumulation, weakened cardiac response to exercise, increased left ventricular mass with an increase in wall thickness and a reduction in luminal diameter.Detecting and treating health problems as early as possible and preventing preterm births when possible can help babies live longer, healthier lives. Parents of premature babies should take advantage of follow-up clinics offered by NICUs to ensure their child is developing properly.