Author(s): AnnaKarin Edstedt Bonamy, Ana Bendito, Helena Martin, Gunnar Sedin, Mikael Norman
Preterm birth might induce permanent changes in vascular structure and function as well as in blood pressure. To elucidate this hypothesis and underlying mechanisms in girls born before term, the authors correlated neonatal data, including estradiol levels, with vascular function and structure and with blood pressure after puberty. In a case-control study design, 34 girls born before term and 32 gender- and age-matched control infants born at term were included. Pulse wave analysis was used to determine aortic pressure profiles and overall arterial compliance. Stiffness of the carotid artery and abdominal aorta was measured with ultrasonography. Pulse wave velocity in the forearm was measured with photoplethysmography. A laser Doppler technique was used to determine skin perfusion before and after transdermal delivery of acetylcholine, an endothelium-dependent vasodilator. It was found that preterm girls had significantly higher brachial and aortic blood pressure, a narrower but less stiff abdominal aorta, and lower peripheral skin blood flow than did control infants. Augmentation index, carotid stiffness, pulse wave velocity, endothelium-dependent vasodilatation, and heart rate were similar in the two groups. In the preterm group, blood pressure and vascular functions showed no association with intrauterine growth retardation or neonatal estradiol levels. In conclusion, preterm girls have higher blood pressure and an increased resistance in the vascular tree after puberty. These findings may have implications for future cardiovascular risk in the growing adult population surviving preterm birth.