METHODS: This was a comparative cross-sectional study. We recruited children aged 8-11 years from eight primary schools in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, Malaysia. The children were divided into two groups: those with LBW (< 2,500 g) and those with normal birth weight (≥ 2,500 g). Parents of the enrolled children were asked to complete a translated version of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood questionnaire. Lung function tests, done using a MicroLoop Spirometer, were performed for the children in both groups by a single investigator who was blinded to the children's birth weight.
RESULTS: The prevalence of 'ever wheezed' among the children with LBW was 12.9%. This value was significantly higher than that of the children with normal birth weight (7.8%). Forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in one second, and forced expiratory flow when 50% and 75% of the FVC had been exhaled were significantly lower among the children with LBW as compared to the children with normal birth weight.
CONCLUSION: LBW is associated with an increased prevalence of asthma-like symptoms and impaired lung function indices later in life. Children born with LBW may need additional follow-up so that future respiratory problems can be detected early.