Infants that are born preterm or with impaired growth have an increased risk of developing gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), possibly leaving them vulnerable to the development of esophageal adenocarcinoma later in life. Gestational age and size at birth affect the risk of an early diagnosis of esophagitis - inflammation of the esophagus - according to a new study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the official clinical practice journal of the American Gastroenterological Association.
"Long-term exposure to reflux is a major risk factor for esophageal cancer. Therefore, those exposed to reflux early in life, such as preterm-born infants and children, may face a higher risk of developing esophageal cancer," said Lina Forssell, MD, of the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden and first author of this study. "Having found an increased risk of esophagitis among those born preterm, it is important that we try to quantify their subsequent risk of developing esophageal cancer."