Premature Babies More Likely To Have Osteoporosis During Adulthood

By Elizabeth Anderson, Parent Herald May 31, 02:14 am

Premature babies face a larger risk of having brittle bones when they reach adulthood, according to a study. During the last few weeks of pregnancy, calcium is transferred to the fetus, a process that is not completed in cases of premature birth.

Researchers have found that due to the incomplete transfer of calcium, premature babies grow up to be adults with lower peak bone mass when compared to babies born after a full term pregnancy, according to EurekAlert. Peak bone mass is a major determining factor in the development of osteoporosis.

Babies Small For Gestational Age Also At Risk

"Our study shows that both those born prematurely with a very low birth weight and those who were born full term, but small for their gestational age, had lower bone mass than the control group, who were born full term with normal weights," said the study's lead author Dr. Chandima Balasuriya, as per Mirror. For babies born small for their gestational age, the low bone mass was found to be partly due to their body size.

The study on premature babies and brittle bones involved 186 adults aged 26-28, 52 of which were born with very low weights. There were 59 adults who were born after a full term pregnancy but were considered to be born small. Lastly, there was a control group of 77 who weighed normally after a full term birth.

Healthy Lifestyle Recommended

The researchers analyzed the bone mineral content and density of the adults' spine, neck, hip and whole body. They also measured the adults' height, weight, smoking and physical activity levels.

"Consuming a diet rich in calcium, vitamin D and protein, in combination with exercise that involves weight-bearing physical activities may help children with low birth weights to reduce the risk of bone fractures later in life," Balasuriya said, as per Hindustan Times. The findings were presented in this year's European Congress of Endocrinology.

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