Studies have found that late preterm (LPT) infants have higher increased risk of asthma, however, none of them have explored possible confounders. This study by Voge et al. (Allergy and Asthma Proceedings, 2017) aimed to compare the frequency of asthma amongst former LPT infants and matched term infants to account for possible biases and determine whether asthma is indeed associated with LPT birth.
Population-Based Birth Cohort Study
282 LPT (34-38 6/7 weeks gestation) and term infants were compared to 297 term (37-40 6/7 weeks gestation) infants. Prior to assessing the data for confounding affects, LPT infants had a higher cumulative frequency of asthma compared to term infants (29.9% vs. 19.5%; p=0.01). However, after accounting for confounding factors related to asthma, this increase disappeared, and LPT birth was not associated with an increase in asthma rate. The investigators also looked at secondary outcomes such as other physician-diagnosed atopic conditions (eczema and/or atopic dermatitis and allergic rhinitis and/or hay fever). Maternal smoking during pregnancy was a major confounding factor that was responsible for the unadjusted association between LPT and asthma. The authors conclude that LPT is not independently associated with an increased risk of asthma or other atopic conditions. Most important, smoking during pregnancy is associated with asthma in children and therefore every effort should be made to address this modifiable risk for both preterm birth and asthma.
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