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Preemies' brains reap long-term benefits from Kangaroo Mother Care
Date:9/19/2012

This press release is available in French.

Quebec City, September 19, 2012Kangaroo Mother Care -- a technique in which a breastfed premature infant remains in skin-to-skin contact with the parent's chest rather than being placed in an incubator -- has lasting positive impact on brain development, revealed Universit Laval researchers in the October issue of Acta Paediatrica. Very premature infants who benefited from this technique had better brain functioning in adolescence -- comparable to that of adolescents born at term -- than did premature infants placed in incubators.

Earlier research showed that infants born prior to the 33rd week of pregnancy experienced more cognitive and behavioral problems during childhood and adolescence. Universit Laval researchers Cyril Schneider and Rjean Tessier, of the Department of Rehabilitation in the Faculty of Medicine and of the School of Psychology, respectively, and their Colombian colleagues Nathalie Charpak (Kangaroo Foundation) and Juan Ruiz-Pelez (Universidad Javeriana) wanted to determine if Kangaroo Mother Care could prevent these problems. To that end they compared, at age 15, 18 premature infants kept in incubators, 21 premature infants held in Kangaroo contact for an average of 29 days, and 9 term infants.

To assess participants' brain functions, the researchers used transcranial magnetic stimulation. With this non-invasive and painless technique they could activate brain cells in targeted areas, namely the primary motor cortex that controls muscles. By measuring muscle responses to the stimulation, they were able to assess brain functions such as the level of brain excitability and inhibition, cell synchronization, neural conduction speed, and coordination between the two cerebral hemispheres.

The data collected by the researchers indicate that all brain functions of the adolescent
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Contact: Jean-Franois Hupp
jean-francois.huppe@dc.ulaval.ca
418-656-7785
Universit Laval
Source:Eurekalert

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