Study: Preemies at higher risk of heart disease - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Study: Preemies at higher risk of heart disease

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LONDON -

Three-year old Sarah Polec was a preemie, born more than a month before her mother's due date.

"That was a pretty tense period for us," mom Anita Polec said.

A new British study suggests preemies like Sarah could be at an increased risk for heart problems when they are adults. Researchers say that's because their hearts may form and work differently than hearts of full-term babies.

University of Oxford Cardiologist Paul Leeson led the study.

"Their hearts appear to be slightly smaller, they had slightly thicker walls and had a slight reduction of the blood they are pumping," he explained.

Researchers tracked more than 100 premature babies into their 20s and compared scans of their hearts to adults born at full-term. The study found adults who were preemies may be at greater risk for high blood pressure. Doctors suggest they keep an eye on their blood pressure, but say there's no need to panic. The vast majority will be absolutely fine.

That's reassuring news for Anita Polec.

"I will keep checking her every couple of months and make sure there are no issues in the future with that," she said.

She wants Sarah to be happy and healthy as she grows.

The preemie study was published in this week's American Heart Association Journal, Circulation.

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