Skip 
Navigation Link
Child Development & Parenting: Infants (0-2)
Resources
Basic Information
Infant Development: How Your Baby Grows and MaturesInfant Parenting: Keeping Your Baby Healthy and HappyInfant Safety: Keeping Your Baby SafeInfant Enrichment: Stimulating Your Baby
More InformationLatest News
Premature Delivery Raises Odds for Cerebral PalsyKey to Good Sleep for Toddlers Starts in InfancyHigh Curiosity in Infancy Carries Through to Toddler Years1 in 4 Parents Worries Their Young Child Isn't Reaching Milestones: PollC-Section Babies Miss Out on Mom's 'Microbiome,' But Treatment Can Change ThatSharing Bed With Baby: Dangerous, and It Won't Boost 'Attachment,' Study ShowsAHA News: Preterm Babies May Have Higher Stroke Risk as Young AdultsBabies Produce Strong Immune Response to Ward Off COVID-19: StudySkin-to-Skin Contact Could Boost Survival of Very Premature BabiesAre Babies With Seizures Overmedicated?AHA News: A Baby's Gut Bacteria May Predict Future ObesityEven Secondhand Smoke in Pregnancy Might Raise Baby's Breathing RisksBoys Born Very Prematurely May Age Faster as MenGood Bacteria Aren't Present in Baby's Gut Before BirthWhy C-Section Babies May Be at Higher Risk for a Food AllergyBeing Born Even a Bit Early Might Hamper Child's DevelopmentLow Risk of Mom Passing COVID to NewbornNewborns Won't Get COVID Through Infected Mom's Breast Milk: StudyC-Section Babies Have Microbiome Deficit, But Catch Up Over TimeMost Parents Skip Child Car Seats When Using Uber, LyftWhatever the Language, Babies LOVE Baby TalkSpotting Asthma in Your Baby or ToddlerKids' ER Visits for Swallowed Magnets Soared After U.S. Lifted Sales BanTHC From Pot Lingers in Breast Milk for Weeks: StudyBreastfeeding Moms Get Mixed Messages When Baby Has an AllergyDo Touchscreens Make Your Toddler More Distractible?Treating Mom's Postpartum Depression Could Help Baby's Brain, TooChild Car Seat Safety Tip: Skip Puffy Winter CoatsFewer Food Allergies in Kids If Mom Drinks Milk While Breastfeeding: StudyWhy a Newborn's First Breath Is So ImportantParents, Don't Worry if Baby's Sleep Is ErraticBirth Defects Tied to Rise in Lifelong Cancer RiskCOVID Can Harm the Infant HeartMore Kids Injured by Tiny Magnets After Sales Ban Was Lifted: StudyAntibiotics Before Age 2 May Up Odds for Obesity, AllergiesNewborns Are at Low COVID RiskBreastfed Babies May Grow Into Better-Adjusted Teens: StudyNewborn Brain Bleeds Resolve by Age 2Newborn Brains Don't Process Emotions Like AdultsFewer Painful Procedures Could Help Preemies' Brain Development: StudyNurses Can Make the Difference for New Moms' BreastfeedingMicroplastics Are Seeping Out of Baby's Bottle, Study ShowsBig Babies May Face Higher Lifelong A-Fib RiskAn Expert's Guide to Safe Sleeping for Your BabyBringing the Forest to Kids' Daycare May Boost Young Immune SystemsNewborns of Moms With COVID-19 Face Little Infection Risk: StudyExposing Babies to Wheat Very Early Might Prevent Celiac Disease: StudyMost Newborns of COVID-19-Infected Moms Fare WellFor Kids With Hearing Issues, Early Intervention Crucial to School ReadinessParent's Skin-to-Skin Hug Does Ease a Baby's Pain, Brain Study Suggests
Links
Related Topics

Child & Adolescent Development: Overview
Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses
Parenting
Child Development & Parenting: Early (3-7)
Child Development & Parenting: Middle (8-11)

AHA News: Preterm Babies May Have Higher Stroke Risk as Young Adults

HealthDay News
by American Heart Association News
Updated: Jun 17th 2021

new article illustration

THURSDAY, June 17, 2021 (American Heart Association News) -- Babies born prematurely may have significantly higher risk of stroke as young adults – and the earlier the birth, the greater the risk, suggests an extensive new study.

Although people born prematurely have been shown to have higher risk of high blood pressure and other disorders that can lead to stroke, little research has focused on stroke itself, said Dr. Casey Crump, the study's lead author. Earlier findings also were inconsistent, said Crump, a professor and vice chair for research in the department of family medicine and community health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.

So, in what he said is the largest study to look at stroke risk and preterm birth, Crump and his colleagues examined the records of more than 2.1 million people born in Sweden from 1973 to 1994 who lived to at least age 18. That group was reviewed for first-time stroke through 2015, when the oldest was 43 years old.

A full-term pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks. In the study, infants born early preterm (22 to 33 weeks) had a 42% higher risk of stroke in adulthood compared to full-term babies. Those born late preterm (34 to 36 weeks) had a 22% higher risk. Early-term birth (37-38 weeks) was not associated with increased risk.

"It was quite striking that these risks seem to emerge in adulthood," Crump said.

The study adjusted for factors such as sex, the parents' ages and the mother's weight. To filter out genetic or environmental factors in the children's families, the study did a separate comparison between the preterm infants and siblings who were born full-term.

Even after adjusting for those unmeasured factors within families, most of the risks remained, Crump said. "This suggests that preterm birth itself may have direct effects on later risk of stroke."

The study was published Thursday in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.

Dr. Lori Jordan, who co-wrote an editorial accompanying the study, called the findings important and said multiple mechanisms have been proposed for why preterm birth might raise stroke risk.

Blood vessel walls form during fetal development, and arterial stiffness caused by abnormal development of the inner lining of those walls "seems to be a unifying theme" in possible explanations, said Jordan, director of the Pediatric Stroke Program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Stiff arteries, she said, may lead to increased blood pressure and early atherosclerosis, which are both associated with increased stroke risk.

Crump emphasized the absolute risk of stroke for people born preterm was low. During the study, only 0.3% of people born early were diagnosed with stroke.

But many people could be affected.

About 1 in 10 births in the U.S. are preterm, according to theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention. Advances in treatment mean there are more survivors than ever. "It's really the first time in history that we have very large numbers of people born prematurely who are surviving into adulthood," Crump said.

The study used records from Sweden, but Crump said the findings likely apply broadly. He said more research would be needed in diverse racial and ethnic groups.

Jordan said people born preterm should work with their primary care physicians to monitor for high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and other modifiable stroke risk factors. "If risk factors are found, they can be addressed, and this will hopefully reduce the chances of a stroke occurring."

Crump said doctors need to be aware of the potential risks faced by people who were born preterm. "We need to improve the identification of these patients in clinical settings by including birth history as part of medical history-taking and tracking this in electronic health records, which will help put patients' health in better context," he said.

American Heart Association News covers heart and brain health. Not all views expressed in this story reflect the official position of the American Heart Association. Copyright is owned or held by the American Heart Association, Inc., and all rights are reserved. If you have questions or comments about this story, please email editor@heart.org.

By Michael Merschel