Premature birth weakens brain, slows development, triggers psychic problems

Beware, premature birth puts baby at risk of weakened brain connection which might lead to several brain-related problems including weak communication and processing skills, emotion problems, increased risk of neurological and psychiatric disorders, claims researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis who studied the brain scans of baby who were born prematurely and compared it with the normal babies.

“The brain is particularly ‘plastic’ very early in life and potentially could be modified by early intervention,” said principal investigator Cynthia Rogers, assistant professor of child psychiatry. “We usually can’t begin interventions until after symptoms develop, but what we’re trying to do is develop objective measures of brain development in preemies that can indicate whether a child is likely to have later problems so that we can then intervene with extra support and therapy early on to try to improve outcomes,” said Rogers.

For the study, researchers compared brain scans of 58 full term baby and 76 premature babies who were born at least 10 weeks before the full term. Brains of full term baby were scanned on the third day of life while brains of premature baby were scanned few days before the due date. After observing the scans, researchers found several abnormalities in the brain circuit of babies who were born early and significant differences in the white matter tracts.
It was noticed that a part of brain structure that controls emotions, communication and attention, was weaker in the babies who were born early. In addition, the part of brain that controls learning and development abilities is also very weak in babies born at least 10 weeks before the full term. Rogers said that this explains why premature baby are slow at learning and often are discovered with psychic disorders. As the baby grows older these psychic problems tend to magnify and start threatening life
The study was presented at Neuroscience 2015, the annual scientific meeting of the Society for Neuroscience on Monday in Chicago.
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