Effect of Early-Term Birth on Respiratory Symptoms and Lung Function in Childhood and Adolescence

Sarah Kotecha, William Watkins, John Lowe, John Henderson, sailesh Kotecha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Background: Early-term-born subjects, (37–38 weeks’ gestation), form a large
part of the population and have an increased risk of neonatal respiratory morbidity and childhood respiratory symptoms; there is a paucity of data on their later lung function. We sought to (1) compare lung function at 8–9 and 14–17 years in early-term-born children with full-term-born children (39–43 weeks’ gestation); (2) assess the role of caesarean section delivery; and (3) compare respiratory symptoms and diagnosis of asthma.

Methods: Caucasian, singleton, term births from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (n=14,062) who had lung spirometry at 8–9 (n¼5,465) and/or 14–17 (n=3,666) years were classified as early or full term.

Results: At 8–9 years, standardized spirometry measures, although within the normal range, were lower in the early-term-born group, (n=911), compared to full-term controls (n=4,554). Delivery by caesarean section did not influence later spirometry, and the effect of early-term birth was not modified by delivery by caesarean section. At 14–17 years, the spirometry measures in the early-term group, (n=602), were similar to the full-term group (3,064), and the rates of asthma and respiratory symptoms were also similar between the two gestation groups.

Conclusions: Early-term-born children had lower lung function values at 8–9 years compared to the full-term group, but were similar by 14–17 years of age. Delivery at early term should be avoided due to early and late morbidity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1212-1221
Number of pages10
JournalPediatric Pulmonology
Issue number11
Early online date28 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


  • Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC)
  • lung physiology
  • pulmonary function tests
  • cohort study
  • asthma


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