Review Article

Sports Medicine

, Volume 31, Issue 8, pp 591-599

Exercise and the Child Born Prematurely

  • Helge HebestreitAffiliated withChildren’s Hospital, Julius-Maximilians University Email author 
  • , Oded Bar-OrAffiliated withChildren’s Exercise and Nutrition Centre, McMaster University, Chedoke - McMaster Hospitals

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With the increase in survival rates of children born prematurely, issues related to their active pursuits and responses to exercise have been gaining increasing attention. In some preterm children with an extremely low birthweight, bronchopulmonary dysplasia or cerebral palsy exercise capacity may be limited, especially in tasks requiring good neuromotor coordination. Deficiencies in aerobic and anaerobic performance, strength and coordination may even occur in children without overt manifestations of a neuromuscular or pulmonary disease. However, as a rule, children born prematurely may engage in physical activities and competitive sports without limitations. Exercise is safe in almost all such children as long as precautions are taken to avoid exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. However, to date there are no studies that have determined the efficacy of training. A wide variety of activities should be encouraged in all children born prematurely at an early age, to support the development of skills and to compensate for the possible effects of their premature birth on coordination.