Exercise capacity in very low birth weight adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis

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There is an association between very low birth weight (VLBW) and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in adulthood. Aerobic fitness, measured as the maximal oxygen consumption (VO 2 max), is a good indicator of cardiopulmonary health and predictor of cardiovascular mortality. Our aim was to determine the effect of birth weight on aerobic exercise capacity and physical activity. We systematically identified studies reporting exercise capacity (VO 2 max and VO 2 peak) and physical activity levels in participants born at VLBW aged eighteen years or older compared to term-born controls from six databases (MEDLINE, OVID, EMBASE, CI NAHL, CENTRAL, and Google Scholar). Meta-analysis of eligible studies was conducted using a random effect model. We screened 6202 articles and identified 15 relevant studies, 10 of which were eligible for meta-analysis. VLBW participants had a lower VO 2 max compared to their term counterparts (−3.35, 95% CI: −5.23 to −1.47, p = 0.0005), as did VLBW adults who had developed bronchopulmonary dysplasia (−6.08, 95% CI −11.26 to −0.90, p = 0.02). Five of nine studies reported significantly reduced self-reported physical activity levels. Our systematic review and meta-analysis demonstrated reduced maximal aerobic exercise capacity in adults born at VLBW compared to term-born controls.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1427
Issue number8
Early online date21 Aug 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Aug 2023

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