Article By: IAN RANDALL - READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Baby boys born prematurely with an extremely low birth weight (ELBW) age faster than their peers, and, by their 30s, end up biologically nearly five years older
Baby boys born prematurely with an extremely low birth weight (ELBW) age faster than their peers, and, by their 30s, end up biologically nearly five years older.
ELBW babies are those whose birth weights measure in at less than two pounds and three ounces (1 kilogram) and they are typically born at 27 weeks or sooner.
Researchers from Canada's McMaster University calculated the biological ages of 92 individuals, all aged between 30–35, of whom 45 were born ELBW.
They found that the ELBW men were an average of 4.6 years older, biologically, than those with healthy birth weight — a discrepancy not seen among the women.
According to the team, the more rapid aging may be a result of boys handling physiological stress before and shortly after birth differently to girls.
The findings, they added, suggest that doctors should be encouraging ELBW men to take steps to proactively combat their premature aging.
Measures could include eating a balanced diet, avoiding smoking, getting decent amounts of sleep and exercise and managing stress, according to the team.
The study was conducted by physician Ryan Van Lieshout of the McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, and his colleagues.
The investigation forms part of the world's oldest longitudinal study of ELBW babies, which commenced in 1977 and has been monitoring the ongoing health of its subjects ever since.
The team used DNA analysis to compare the biological ages of 45 of the ELBW individuals with 47 of their normal birth weight peers when both were aged 30–35.
To ensure the best comparison, the researchers controlled for confounding factors like chronic health problems and sensory impairments.
The researchers found that by their thirties, the ELBW men were an average of 4.6 years older, biologically, than their normal birth weight peers.
However, this same discrepancy was not found among women who were similarly born with an extremely low birth weight.
'Although it is unclear why accelerated biological aging is seen in the ELBW men, this suggests that prenatal exposures play an important role,' said Dr Van Lieshout.
The findings, he noted, add to previous research that concluded that ELBW boys are more vulnerable to prenatal stresses than similar weight baby girls.
'This certainly highlights the need to monitor the health of preterm survivors across their lifespan, and more research needs to be done,' said Dr Van Lieshout.
The findings, he added, 'also emphasizes the need to forewarn the ELBW men and promote healthy aging so they may proactively mitigate these risks.'
The full findings of the study were published in the journal Pediatrics.