Aug 14, 2013 01:50 PM EDT By Staff Reporter
Adults who were born prematurely may have a higher risk of developing heart problems later on in life, a small new study suggests.
Despite most premature babies growing like any other baby born at full term, the study suggests that there may be underlying health concerns that premature babies face as they grow up. In this new study, published in the journal Circulation, researchers reported that people who were born prematurely are at a greater risk of suffering from heart failure.
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Researchers followed 102 premature babies from birth into their 20s, and compared them to 132 people born at full term. The study found that the right lower heart chamber in young adults who were born prematurely was smaller and heavier, and had thicker walls and less pumping capacity.
"We wanted to understand why this occurs so that we can identify the small group of patients born premature who may need advice from their health care provider about this cardiovascular risk," said study author Paul Leeson, a professor of cardiology at the University of Oxford's Cardiovascular Clinical Research Facility in the U.K., in a press release.
"The changes we have found in the right ventricle are quite distinct and intriguing."
According to the statement, the researchers found that the right ventricle in preterm babies or the right lower heart chamber was smaller than the right ventricle in full-term babies and was even heavier that led to lesser pumping capacity.
Note that preterm birth in the study was defined as birth that occurred before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
Researchers also found that babies born too early had poor functioning right ventricle.