(CNN)One in 10 babies around the world is born prematurely, and the vastly improved survival rates of preemies is one of the most striking advances of modern health care -- with the overwhelming majority of those born preterm reaching adulthood.
Preemies may have greater risk of premature death as adults, study suggests
But what are the long-term health risks of being born too early as these infants approach middle and old age? It's a question that has been difficult to answer with many individuals in follow-up studies still too young to draw meaningful conclusions.
However, new research that looked at more than 6 million people born in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland -- mainly in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s -- has found that individuals born preterm are at a modestly greater risk of dying prematurely in adulthood when compared to those born after 38 weeks.
In particular, preterm birth was associated with a twofold increase in increased risks of death from cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks or strokes, chronic lung disease and diabetes compared to those born closer to full gestation, the study found.