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Preterm infants exposed to stressors in NICU display reduced brain size
Date:10/3/2011

, or very preterm, and stress was measured by using the Neonatal Infant Stressor Scale (NISS)a scale consisting of 36 interventions that contribute to infant stress, ranging from diaper change to intubation. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and neurobehavioral examinations were used to evaluate cerebral structure and function.

Results show that the average daily exposure to stressors was greatest in the first 14 days following birth. The greater number of stressors that an infant was exposed to was associated with decreased frontal and parietal brain width. Researchers also reported altered brain microstructure and functional connectivity within the temporal lobes in infants with early stress exposure. Abnormal movement pattern and reflex scores were lower among preterm infants exposed to higher stress in the first two weeks of life.

"Our findings suggest that stress exposure reduces the brain size in early preterm infants and long-term consequences are unknown," said Dr. Inder. "However, prior research has found that brain volume at (term) birth is a predictor of neurodevelopmental outcomes later in childhood." The authors suggest that further research of stress exposure on the preterm brain, independent of illness severity, is needed to improve outcomes for premature infants.


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Contact: Dawn Peters
healthnews@wiley.com
781-388-8408
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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