Study links premature birth, retinal detachment

November 13, 2013

Children born extremely prematurely have up to a 19-times greater risk of retinal detachment later in life than those born at term, according to a Swedish study published this month in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

 

San Francisco-Children born extremely prematurely have up to a 19-times greater risk of retinal detachment later in life than those born at term, according to a Swedish study published this month in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

In the large population-based, long-term investigation, the research determined that birth before 32 weeks is associated with increased risks of retinal detachment in childhood, adolescence, and young adult life.

The researchers used Swedish nationwide population registries of more than 3 million births from 1973 to 2008 to identify subjects born prematurely. The patients were then separated into two groups: those born between 1973 and 1986-at which point a national retinopathy of prematurity screening program was established-and those born between 1987 and 2008.

For patients born extremely prematurely (less than 28 weeks of gestation) between 1973 and 1986, the researchers found the risk of retinal detachment was 19 times higher than those born at term. Patients born extremely prematurely between 1987 and 2008 were found to have a 9-fold increase in risk after adjustment for potential cofounders.

Those born very prematurely (28 to 31 weeks of gestation) between 1973 and 1986 were found to have a 4-fold increased risk and those born very prematurely between 1987 and 2008 had a 9-fold increase in risk after adjustment for potential cofounders.

“We may just be seeing the tip of the iceberg of late ophthalmic complications after preterm birth,” said Anna-Karin Edstedt Bonamy, MD, PhD, pediatrician at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, and the study’s lead researcher. “Not only does the risk of retinal detachment increase with age, but there also has been an increase in survival among people born prematurely since the 1970s. This provides opportunities for future research to address if the increased risk persists among those born prematurely as they age.”

 

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