Author(s): Greenough A
Chronic respiratory morbidity is common following premature birth, particularly if complicated by bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) development. Affected patients can remain oxygen dependent for many months, but unusually beyond two years. Those requiring supplementary oxygen at home have increased healthcare utilisation, even during the preschool years when no longer oxygen dependent. More than 50% of "BPD" patients require readmission in the first two years, particularly for respiratory infections. Prematurely born children, especially those who had BPD, are more likely to suffer frequent troublesome symptoms at school age and in adolescence than term born controls. This is associated with evidence of airways obstruction. Although lung function improves as the clinical condition improves, abnormalities can be detected even in young adults who had severe BPD. Nowadays, severe BPD is uncommon, but those with "new" BPD may have abnormal antenatal lung growth, whether they achieve appropriate catch up lung growth needs careful investigation.