University of Oulu

Evensen, KAI, Tikanmäki, M, Heinonen, K, et al. Musculoskeletal pain in adults born preterm: Evidence from two birth cohort studies. Eur J Pain. 2019; 23: 461– 471.

Musculoskeletal pain in adults born preterm : evidence from two birth cohort studies

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Author: Evensen, Kari Anne I.1,2,3; Tikanmäki, Marjaana4,5; Heinonen, Kati6;
Organizations: 1Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
2Department of Public Health and Nursing, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
3Department of Physiotherapy, Trondheim Municipality, Trondheim, Norway
4Department of Public Health Solutions, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Oulu and Helsinki, Finland
5Institute of Health Sciences, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
6Department of Psychology and Logopedics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
7Department of Nursing Science, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
8PEDEGO Research Unit (Research Unit for Pediatrics, Dermatology, Clinical Genetics, Obstetrics and Gynecology), Medical Research Center Oulu (MRC Oulu), Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
9Children's Hospital, Helsinki University Central Hospital and University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
10Department of Psychology, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
11Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
12Folkhälsan Research Center, Helsinki, Finland
13Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Imperial College, London, UK
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.3 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2019
Publish Date: 2020-03-31


Background: Individuals born preterm are at risk of later developmental problems and long‐term morbidities. There is conflicting evidence regarding musculoskeletal pain in young adulthood. We investigated the prevalence of self‐reported musculoskeletal pain in young adults born across the range of preterm birth compared with a term‐born reference group.

Methods: From two Finnish birth cohorts, 184 individuals born early preterm (<34 weeks), 350 late preterm (34 to <37 weeks) and 641 at term completed a self‐report questionnaire of musculoskeletal pain at mean age 24.1 (SD: 1.4) years. Group differences were examined by logistic regression models adjusting for sex, age and cohort (Model 1), potential early life confounders (Model 2) and lifestyle factors related to physical (Model 3) and mental health (Model 4).

Results: The late preterm group had lower odds for reporting neck pain (0.73; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.56–0.96), which was further reduced when adjusting for early life confounders and lifestyle factors (Model 4). Odds for reporting peripheral pain were 0.69 (95% CI: 0.48–0.99, Model 4) in the early preterm group. The odds for reporting any pain, shoulder, low back or widespread pain did not differ significantly between groups, although odds for reporting widespread pain were 0.77 (95% CI: 0.58–1.03, Model 4) in the late preterm group.

Conclusions: We did not find evidence of increased prevalence of musculoskeletal pain in adults born early or late preterm. In contrast, our results suggest that adults born preterm have a slightly lower risk of reporting musculoskeletal pain, also when we adjusted for lifestyle factors.

Significance: Young adults born preterm do not have increased rates of musculoskeletal pain. Our findings rather suggest that these rates may be slightly lower than among those born at term.

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Series: European journal of pain
ISSN: 1090-3801
ISSN-E: 1532-2149
ISSN-L: 1090-3801
Volume: 23
Issue: 3
Pages: 461 - 471
DOI: 10.1002/ejp.1320
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3121 General medicine, internal medicine and other clinical medicine
Funding: AYLS childhood follow‐up was financially supported by the Bundesministerium für Forschung und Technik (Federal Government of Germany, Ministry of Science and Technology) program grants PKE 4 and JUG 14 (FKZ's 0706224, 0706564 and 01EP9504) to Drs Riegel, Wolke and Ohrt; AYLS adulthood follow‐up was financially supported by the Academy of Finland program grants to Drs Eriksson, Raikkonen and Kajantie; The work by Dr Heinonen was supported by Academy of Finland postdoctoral grant; Dr Eriksson was supported also by grant from Samfundet Folkhälsan; Dr Andersson from Päivikki and Sakari Sohlberg Foundation and Finska Läkaresällskapet and Dr Kajantie by Foundation for Pediatric Research, Juho Vainio Foundation, Novo Nordisk Foundation, Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation, Sigrid Jusélius Foundation. The work of Drs Wolke, Räikkönen and Kajantie was supported by European Commission Horizon 2020 Award (SC1‐2016‐RTD‐733280 RECAP).
Copyright information: © 2018 European Pain Federation - EFIC ®. This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Evensen, KAI, Tikanmäki, M, Heinonen, K, et al. Musculoskeletal pain in adults born preterm: Evidence from two birth cohort studies. Eur J Pain. 2019; 23: 461– 471., which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.