Young adults born with extreme prematurity have increased blood pressure and insulin resistance. This study documents their metabolic health as they enter their fourth decade of life. The study objective was to compare body composition, glycemia, lipid levels, and blood pressure in adults born with extremely low birth weight (ELBW) versus age- and sex- matched normal birth weight (NBW) control subjects and to examine related previous and current exposures.


The study examines one of the oldest regionally representative cohorts of ELBW subjects (birth weight <1 kg) and NBW individuals born between 1977 and 1982. The primary outcome was dysglycemia (type 2 diabetes or prediabetes) based on results of a 75-g oral glucose tolerance test. Secondary outcomes include body composition, insulin resistance, fasting lipid profile, and blood pressure. Potential predictive factors included birth weight, maternal antenatal corticosteroid exposure, retinopathy of prematurity, growth parameters, and smoking history.


Adults (mean age, 31.8 years) born ELBW (n = 100) had a higher percent body fat (P = .004) and lower lean mass for height (P = .018) but similar waist circumference (P = .54) and BMI (P = .61) compared with NBW control subjects. ELBW adults had a 4.0-fold (95% confidence interval, 1.53–10.66) increased risk of developing dysglycemia. Adults born ELBW also had higher systolic (P = .004) and diastolic (P = .02) blood pressures compared with NBW control subjects, but there were no differences in lipid profile.


By their fourth decade, these adults born extremely premature had increased body fat, lower lean mass, and a 4-fold increased risk of developing dysglycemia.

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