Does moderate preterm birth lead to altered arterial pressure? Studies in sheep

Robert Mark De Matteo, Victoria Stacy, Megan Elizabeth Probyn, Nadine Brew, Natasha Blasch, Richard Harding

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Low birth weight (LBW) is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Preterm birth is a major determinant of LBW and has been shown to result in elevated arterial pressure (AP) in humans, but few studies have investigated the effects of preterm birth in the absence of potentially confounding factors. Our aim was to determine whether moderately preterm birth per se alters the postnatal development of AP in lambs. Preterm lambs were delivered approximately 14 days before term (i.e. 133 days of gestation); controls were born at term ( 147 days). Mean arterial pressure (MAP), heart rate (HR), blood composition and indices of growth were measured at 4 and 8 weeks post term-equivalent age (PTEA). We also studied a separate cohort of preterm and term sheep as young adults ( 1.1 years). Preterm lambs had significantly lower birth weights than term lambs, but bodyweights were not significantly different by Day 12 PTEA. In addition, MAP, HR and most blood variables did not differ between term and preterm lambs at 4 or 8 weeks PTEA. Preterm birth per se did not alter MAP or HR in young adult sheep. Low birth weight due to preterm birth does not result in an altered AP during early postnatal life or at maturity. Moderate intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) due to twinning, which further reduces birth weight, does not affect MAP in preterm lambs. Other factors, such as the degree of prematurity or IUGR, exposure to corticosteroids or postnatal nutrition, may be important in the later development of elevated AP.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1426 - 1432
Number of pages7
JournalClinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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