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Study findings have potential to prevent,reverse disabilities in children born prematurely
Date:1/17/2013

and social behaviors that are frequently impaired in children who survive preterm birth. Specifically, they observed how brain injury in the cerebral cortex of fetal sheep evolved over one month and found no evidence that cells were dying or being lost. They did notice, however, that more brain cells were packed into a smaller volume of brain tissue, which led to, upon further examination, the discovery that the brain cells weren't fully mature.

In a related study published in the same online issue of Science Translational Medicine, investigators at The Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto studied 95 premature infants using MRI and found that impaired growth of the infants was the strongest predictor of the MRI abnormalities, suggesting that interventions to improve infant nutrition and growth may lead to improved cortical development.

"I believe these studies provide hope for the future for preterm babies with brain injury, because our findings suggest that neurons are not being permanently lost from the human cerebral cortex due to ischemia. This raises the possibility that neurodevelopmental enrichment or perhaps improved early infant nutrition as suggested by the companion paper, might make a difference in terms of improved cognitive outcome," Back said.

"Together, these studies challenge the conventional wisdom that preterm birth is associated with a loss of cortical neurons. This finding may change the way neurologists think about diagnosing and treating children born prematurely," said Jill Morris, Ph.D., a program director at the National Institute's of Health's National Institute Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

More than 65,000 premature babies are born in the United States each year. Children who survive preterm birth commonly suffer from a wide range of life-long disabilities, including impaired walking due to cerebral palsy. Currently, children have a 10 times greater risk of acquiring c
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Contact: Tamara Hargens-Bradley
hargenst@ohsu.edu
503-494-8231
Oregon Health & Science University
Source:Eurekalert  

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