RATIONALE: As more preterm infants recover from severe bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), it is critical to understand the clinical consequences of this condition on the lung health of adult survivors.
OBJECTIVES: To assess structural and functional lung parameters in young adult BPD survivors and preterm and term controls Methods: Young adult survivors of BPD (mean age 24) underwent spirometry, lung volumes, transfer factor, lung clearance index and fractional exhaled nitric oxide measurements together with high-resolution chest tomographic (CT) imaging and cardiopulmonary exercise testing.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: 25 adult BPD survivors, (mean ± SD gestational age 26.8 ± 2.3 weeks; birth weight 866 ± 255 g), 24 adult prematurely born non-BPD controls (gestational age 30.6 ± 1.9 weeks; birth weight 1234 ± 207 g) and 25 adult term birth control subjects (gestational age 38.5 ± 0.9 weeks; and birth weight 3569 ± 2979 g) were studied. BPD subjects were more likely to be wakened by cough (OR 9.7, 95% CI: 1.8 to 52.6), p<0.01), wheeze and breathlessness (OR 12.2, 95%CI: 1.3 to 112), p<0.05) than term controls after adjusting for sex and current smoking. Preterm subjects had greater airways obstruction than term subjects. BPD subjects had significantly lower values for FEV1 and FEF25-75 (% predicted and z scores) than term controls (both p<0.001). Although non-BPD subjects also had lower spirometric values than term controls, none of the differences reached statistical significance. More BPD subjects (25%) had fixed airflow obstruction than non-BPD (12.5%) and term (0%) subjects (p=0.004). Both BPD and non-BPD subjects had significantly greater impairment in gas transfer (KCO % predicted) than term subjects (both p<0.05). Eighteen (37%) preterm participants were classified as small for gestational age (birth weight < 10th percentile for gestational age). These subjects had significantly greater impairment in FEV1 (% predicted and z scores) than those born appropriate for gestational age. BPD survivors had significantly more severe radiographic structural lung impairment than non-BPD subjects. Both preterm groups had impaired exercise capacity compared to term controls. There was a trend for greater limitation and leg discomfort in BPD survivors.
CONCLUSIONS: Adult preterm birth survivors, especially those who developed BPD, continue to experience respiratory symptoms and exhibit clinically important levels of pulmonary impairment.