Lung abnormalities do not influence aerobic capacity in school children born preterm

Christopher A. O’Dea, Karla Logie, Andrew C. Wilson, J. Jane Pillow, Conor Murray, Georgia Banton, Shannon J. Simpson, Graham L. Hall, Andrew Maiorana

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Purpose: Children born preterm have impaired lung function and altered lung structure. However, there are conflicting reports on how preterm birth impacts aerobic exercise capacity in childhood. We aimed to investigate how neonatal history and a diagnosis of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) impact the relationship between function and structure of the lung, and aerobic capacity in school-aged children born very preterm. Methods: Preterm children (≤ 32 w completed gestation) aged 9–12 years with (n = 38) and without (n = 35) BPD, and term-born controls (n = 31), underwent spirometry, lung volume measurements, gas transfer capacity, a high-resolution computer tomography (CT) scan of the chest, and an incremental treadmill exercise test. Results: Children born preterm with BPD had an elevated breathing frequency to tidal volume ratio compared to term controls (76% vs 63%, p = 0.002). The majority (88%) of preterm children had structural changes on CT scan. There were no differences in peak V̇O2 (47.1 vs 47.7 mL/kg/min, p = 0.407) or oxygen uptake efficiency slope when corrected for body weight (67.6 vs 67.3, p = 0.5) between preterm children with BPD and term controls. There were no differences in any other exercise outcomes. The severity of structural lung disease was not associated with exercise outcomes in this preterm population. Conclusion: Children born preterm have impaired lung function, and a high prevalence of structural lung abnormalities. However, abnormal lung function and structure do not appear to impact on the aerobic exercise capacity of preterm children at school age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-498
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


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