Babies born in the late preterm period or during the 35th week of pregnancy are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases in their adulthood, says a new study. Preterm babies are more likely to show an altered control of the heart rate during any high and low energy functions. Late preterm females are more likely to suffer from a decreased sympathetic nervous system activation of the heart, which is an early marker of cardiovascular disease and further slows down the heart rate leading to heart failure. Late preterm males meanwhile lack innate reflexes that normally bring their blood pressure back to normal when it gets too low or too high. “Infants born during the 35th week of pregnancy are generally considered very low risk for morbidity and mortality after birth,” said Beth Allison, from the Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. The study asserts that even a late preterm birth leads to cardiovascular dysfunction in adulthood.  These findings are particularly important as late preterm infants are often assumed to escape the long-term morbidities known to impact on very extremely preterm babies, the researchers said. The research, published in the journal Experimental Physiology, looked at a pre-clinical model of late preterm birth in sheep that were drugged in order to induce early labour (or allowed to give birth naturally). The progeny were followed for up to a year and then underwent extensive testing for cardiovascular and metabolic function.

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