Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Womb Needed For Proper Brain Development

Date:
November 22, 2005
Source:
McMaster University Health Sciences
Summary:
The brains of babies born very prematurely do not develop as well as those who are carried to full-term, according to new research presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Washington, D.C. Researchers reported that an ultrasound study of the brains of babies born around 26 weeks gestation showed that certain aspects of brain development were very compromised compared to infants in utero.

Dr. Sandra Witelson, a professor of psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University.
Credit: Image courtesy of McMaster University Health Sciences

The brains of babies born very prematurely do not develop as well as those who are carried to full-term, according to new research presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Washington, D.C.

Related Articles


Dr. Sandra Witelson, a professor of psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University and chief investigator on the interdisciplinary project at Hamilton Health Sciences, said that an ultrasound study of the brains of babies born around 26 weeks gestation showed that certain aspects of brain development were very compromised compared to infants in utero.

“These findings indicate that the normal early maturation of the brain may be compromised when it takes place outside of the womb,” said Witelson. “We found that in very premature babies, a part of the brain doesn’t show normal growth after birth, and in fact some parts of the brain didn’t change at all from the day the babies were born until they reached what would have been a full-term birth date.”

These results have clinical relevance in how premature babies are cared for, as they indicate that the early brain may be compromised by being subjected to complex stimulation too early.

The results are based on a study of 80 premature boys and girls whose birth weight was less than 1,000 grams (about 2.2 pounds), and who were born just 26 weeks into a normal 40-week pregnancy. Clinical ultrasounds of the premature infants’ brains were done at birth and again when they were discharged from hospital, generally around 36 weeks since conception.

They were compared to the brain ultrasounds taken in utero at about 26 weeks gestation and at birth in other studies to a matched group of 38 full-term infants.

Measurements taken from the ultrasounds showed that certain frontal portions of the brains of the premature babies were comparable at birth to the brains of babies still in utero at that stage of gestation. However, after about 10 weeks in intensive care, the second measurement of the premature babies’ brains showed some portions of the front part of the brain were significantly smaller than those of babies who were born at or near full-term.

Dr. Witelson said the findings indicate further research is needed to try to understand what mechanisms in utero are missing after birth that are essential for the normal process of neuro development.

When a fetus’s brain is developing during pregnancy in utero, very little patterned sensory stimulation reaches the brain, she explained. The eyelids are closed, the infant is bathed in fluid and minimal sounds are perceived.

In contrast, once the premature infant is born, he is necessarily bombarded by a complex environment full of sights, sounds, touches and unnatural loss of movement.

“This research suggests that stimulation of the brain while it is still under construction may not be beneficial,” said Dr. Witelson. “The prefrontal regions appear particularly vulnerable. Is it because they are the most premature at birth?”

The prefrontal regions of the brain that were most affected by the lack of development are important for numerous intellectual functions, including attention, planning and social judgment. Dr. Witelson said more research is needed to consider what in utero mechanisms are essential for brain maturation and the optimal conditions and treatment needed to foster brain development for very premature infants who are treated in neonatal intensive care units early in life.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McMaster University Health Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

McMaster University Health Sciences. "Womb Needed For Proper Brain Development." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 November 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051122205607.htm>.
McMaster University Health Sciences. (2005, November 22). Womb Needed For Proper Brain Development. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 2, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051122205607.htm
McMaster University Health Sciences. "Womb Needed For Proper Brain Development." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051122205607.htm (accessed March 2, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, March 2, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Ways To Celebrate National Nutrition Month

The Best Ways To Celebrate National Nutrition Month

Buzz60 (Mar. 2, 2015) Just when your New Year&apos;s Resolution is losing steam, March comes with fresh inspiration. TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) has some tips to incorporate into your lifestyle during National Nutrition Month. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: 1.1 Billion At Risk Of Hearing Loss, Will They Listen?

WHO: 1.1 Billion At Risk Of Hearing Loss, Will They Listen?

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) According to the World Health Organization, 1.1 billion young people are at risk of hearing loss. Can this staggering number change things? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rehab Robot Helps Restore Damaged Muscles and Nerves

Rehab Robot Helps Restore Damaged Muscles and Nerves

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 1, 2015) A rehabilitation robot prototype to help restore deteriorated nerves and muscles using electromyography and computer games. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Facebook Use Can Lead To Depression

How Facebook Use Can Lead To Depression

Newsy (Mar. 1, 2015) Margaret Duffy of the University of Missouri talks about her study on the social network and the envy and depression that Facebook use can cause. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins