Although preterm birth predisposes for cardiovascular disease, recent studies in children indicate normal blood pressure and arterial stiffness. This prospective cohort study therefore assessed blood pressure and arterial stiffness in adolescents born very preterm due to verified fetal growth restriction (FGR).
Adolescents (14 (13–17) years; 52% girls) born very preterm with FGR (preterm FGR; n = 24) and two control groups born with appropriate birth weight (AGA), one in similar gestation (preterm AGA; n = 27) and one at term (term AGA; n = 28) were included. 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure and aortic pulse wave velocity (PWV) and distensibility by magnetic resonance imaging were acquired.
There were no group differences in prevalence of hypertension or in arterial stiffness (all p ≥ 0.1). In boys, diastolic and mean arterial blood pressures increased from term AGA to preterm AGA to preterm FGR with higher daytime and 24-hour mean arterial blood pressures in the preterm FGR as compared to the term AGA group. In girls, no group differences were observed (all p ≥ 0.1).
Very preterm birth due to FGR is associated with higher, yet normal blood pressure in adolescent boys, suggesting an existing but limited impact of very preterm birth on cardiovascular risk in adolescence, enhanced by male sex and FGR.
Very preterm birth due to fetal growth restriction was associated with higher, yet normal blood pressure in adolescent boys.
In adolescence, very preterm birth due to fetal growth restriction was not associated with increased thoracic aortic stiffness.
In adolescence, very preterm birth in itself showed an existing but limited effect on blood pressure and thoracic aortic stiffness.
Male sex and fetal growth restriction enhanced the effect of preterm birth on blood pressure in adolescence.
Male sex and fetal growth restriction should be considered as additional risk factors to that of preterm birth in cardiovascular risk stratification.