A team of scientists from Canada has found that premature boys are prone to accelerated aging, unlike babies of both sexes born at term or premature girls. The researchers’ findings were published in the journal Pediatrics.
McMaster University researchers have examined data on children from the world’s longest-running longitudinal study of low birth-weight infants (the study began in 1977). Using an epigenetic clock, Canadian scientists analyzed the genes of 45 low-birth-weight babies and 47 normal-birth-weight babies.
They then compared the biological ages of the subjects, who were already 30 to 35 years old. Researchers proved that premature boys, on average, aged 4.6 years faster than infants of the same sex with normal birth weight. No difference in age-related changes could be detected in girls.
The underlying mechanisms of this pattern have not yet been discovered. Scientists can only note that prenatal development apparently plays a significant role in the processes associated with aging.
Several other studies have also shown that preterm male infants are more susceptible to prenatal stresses – possibly related to the rate of age-related changes in the future.
Scientists emphasize that the findings confirm the need to monitor the health of premature babies throughout their lives. People born prematurely are recommended to eat a balanced diet, give up smoking, monitor the sleep schedule, exercise, and learn to manage stress.