Children born preterm are more likely to have smaller airways that impairs lung function, exposing them to respiratory problems all their lives, reveals a new study.

The study showed that smaller airways affects the smooth functioning of the cardiovascular and respiratory system.

It obstructs airflow to the lungs even at rest and leads to significant constraints while exercising in adulthood.

“Our study suggest that respiratory treatments would be less effective in individuals born prematurely,” said J.J. Duke, Assistant Professor at the Northern Arizona University in San Francisco, the US.

The findings may provide a basis to help doctors tailor treatment of respiratory ailments in those born prematurely.

Current treatment of respiratory ailments in adults born premature is similar to asthma treatments, which work to open up closed airways.

This treatment may not have the same effect in individuals born premature because they might have small rather than closed up airways, the researchers said.

The study, published in the journal Experimental Physiology, included adults who were born prematurely, eight or more weeks early, and those who were born at full term.

The team measured the lung function of all participants at rest and during exercises.

Using information from the resting lung function tests, they calculated an estimate of airway size for both premature and full term groups.