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Objectives: Preterm infants may develop altered adiposity, a risk factor for metabolic syndrome. The aim was to evaluate if body composition and blood pressure were altered in a cohort of children born preterm followed up to prepubertal age. Methods: Observational, longitudinal, explorative study. Forty children born preterm underwent growth and body composition assessment by an air displacement plethysmography system at term c.a. and at 5 years. BMI, skinfold thicknesses and blood pressure were further measured at 5 years. Inclusion criteria were birth weight <1500 g and gestational age <32 weeks. Exclusion criteria were congenital/chromosomal or surgical diseases. Forty-three healthy children born at term were the reference group. Results: At term c.a. preterm children were lighter (2455±484 g vs 3247±345 g; p<0.001) and shorter (45.6±3.4 cm vs 49.1±2.3 cm; p<0.001) than children born at term and their fat mass was higher (14.8% vs 8.6%; p=0.02). At 5 years of life, weight and height of children born preterm were lower than those of their counterpart (18.328±3.01 vs 20.302±3.01 g; p=0.008 and 109.7±6.5 vs 112.7±4.3 cm; p=0.02, respectively). No difference in percentage of fat mass was detected. Abdominal, subscapular and suprailiac skinfolds (mm) were larger in the preterm group (6.9±3.6 vs 5.3±2.8, p=0.002; 6.5±2.8 vs 5.0±1.6, p=0,01 and 11.8±4.3 vs 9.3±3.8, p=0,01, respectively). Diastolic pressure (mmHg) was higher in the preterm group (62.2 vs 57.5, p=0.01). Conclusions: At prepubertal age children born preterm tend towards a greater truncal adiposity and increased values of diastolic pressure which might have adverse consequences for later health.
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