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Association of early and current life factors with telomere length in preterm-born children

Kotecha, Ella, Zhang, Lei ORCID:, Aboklaish, Ali, Cousins, Michael, Hart, Kylie, Kotecha, Sarah, Watkins, W. John ORCID: and Kotecha, Sailesh ORCID: 2023. Association of early and current life factors with telomere length in preterm-born children. PLoS ONE 18 (11) , e0293589. 10.1371/journal.pone.0293589

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Background: Telomeres shorten after each cell division. Since preterm-born babies are delivered early and often suffer from inflammatory conditions such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), their telomere length may be altered. Objectives: We assessed associations of early and current life factors with telomere length in saliva samples obtained from 7–12-year-old children born at ≤34 weeks’ gestation and term-born controls. Study design: Relative telomere length was measured by qPCR on extracted DNA. Groups were compared using independent t-tests or ANOVA with post-hoc correction. Linear regression analysis was also used. Results: 534 children had satisfactory telomere data including 383 who were preterm-born (mean (SD) birthweight 1732g (558g), gestation 31.1 (2.6) weeks) and 151 term-born (3464g (510g); 39.8 (1.3) weeks). Telomere length was longer in children who had intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) at birth: mean (SD): 464.6 (166.3) vs. 418.6 (110.7) in the no-IUGR group; in females: 440.2 (130.1) vs. 405.7 (101.5) in males; and in the least deprived group (397.8 (95.0) vs. 437.6 (121.9) most vs least deprivation quintile). Differences were most notable in females with IUGR. However, telomere length was not different between the preterm and term groups; the BPD and no BPD groups nor was it related to lung function or cardiovascular measurements. In multivariable regression analyses, telomere length was associated with sex, IUGR and deprivation with the greatest difference observed in females with IUGR. Conclusions: Telomere length was associated with sex, IUGR and deprivation, especially in females with IUGR, but not with prematurity, BPD, lung function or cardiovascular measurements.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Additional Information: License information from Publisher: LICENSE 1: URL:
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 9 November 2023
Date of Acceptance: 17 October 2023
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2024 01:11

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