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The weeks and months after a baby is born are a critical time for the growth of the heart of premature babies. This is largely because they are faced with major blood flow changes and increased oxygen demands as they transition to the outside environment during a time where they would normally be developing inside their mother.

A lot of research has identified preterm birth (born before 37 weeks gestation) as a risk factor for developing early heart disease, including heart failure. Heart failure is when the heart can’t pump blood around your body as effectively as it should.

Several studies have shown that preterm birth is linked to abnormalities in the structure and function of their heart, yet the extent and evolution of these changes throughout development, from birth to adulthood, are not well defined. However, it’s important that they are defined as one in ten people worldwide are born preterm.

In our latest study, we performed a meta-analysis of data from published studies that compared the heart’s structure and function using echocardiography or cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging for people born preterm versus those born at term.

Read the full article on The Conversation website, written by Dr Adam Lewandowski, Radcliffe Department of Medicine.

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