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Faster Preemie Weight Gain Tied to Better Lung Function

Infants born prematurely who later grow at above-average rates show improved lung function

TUESDAY, Feb. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Longitudinal measures of pulmonary function in infants and young children with bronchopulmonary dysplasia show significant airflow obstruction and restriction, which persists with time; however, infants with above-average weight gain show greater lung growth, according to a study published online Nov. 17 in Pediatric Pulmonology.

Amy G. Filbrun, M.D., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues followed 18 children born prematurely to assess longitudinal changes in pulmonary function over the first 91.44 weeks of life and the relationship to somatic growth.

The researchers found that there was minimal improvement in the babies' average airflow and lung volumes, but the nine premature babies who had above-average weight gain showed greater improvement, even though they did not catch up to full-term babies. They found that in the babies with above-average body growth, there were improvements in lung functions, such as forced vital capacity, forced expiratory volume, and total lung capacity.

"Infants with above-average somatic growth showed greater lung growth than their peers. Controlled randomized studies examining the effects of various nutritional regimens on lung function are warranted," the authors write.

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