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Being born 4-6 weeks premature can affect brain structure, function
Date:5/5/2014

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA The brains of children who were born just a few weeks early differ from those born on time, and these differences may affect learning and behavior, according to a study to be presented Monday, May 5, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Studies have shown that children who were born between 34 and 36 weeks' gestation (late preterm) have more social, behavioral and academic problems than children born at full term (37-41 weeks). However, few studies have looked at the brain structure of late preterm children.

Researchers from the University of Iowa conducted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans on 32 children ages 7-13 years old who were born at 34-36 weeks' gestation. In addition, they administered cognitive tests to the children, including the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, Benton Judgment of Line Orientation (which assesses visual perception), Grooved Pegboard (which assesses fine motor skills and coordination) and Children's Memory Scale. Parents also completed a behavioral assessment.

Results were compared to 64 children born at full term who were recruited for another study in which they completed the same cognitive and behavioral assessments, neurological exam, and MRI sequences as the late preterm group.

Preliminary analysis showed differences in both cognitive function and brain structure in the late preterm children compared to full term children. Functionally, late preterm children had more difficulties with visuospatial reasoning and visual memory. They also had slower processing speed. Processing speed refers to the ability to perform automatically a simple task in an efficient manner. Children with slower processing speed may require more time in the classroom setting to accomplish a task.

Structurally, the brains of late preterm children had less total cerebral white matter, which is critical to com
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Contact: Debbie Jacobson
djacobson@aap.org
847-434-7084
American Academy of Pediatrics
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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