Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Preterm infants exposed to stressors in neonatal intensive care unit display reduced brain size, study finds

Date:
October 5, 2011
Source:
Wiley-Blackwell
Summary:
New research shows that exposure to stressors in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is associated with alterations in the brain structure and function of very preterm infants. According to the study, infants who experienced early exposure to stress displayed decreased brain size, functional connectivity, and abnormal motor behavior.

New research shows that exposure to stressors in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is associated with alterations in the brain structure and function of very preterm infants. According to the study now available in Annals of Neurology, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American Neurological Association and Child Neurology Society, infants who experienced early exposure to stress displayed decreased brain size, functional connectivity, and abnormal motor behavior.

Infants born prior to the 37th week of pregnancy are considered preterm, which occurs in 9.6% of all births worldwide, according to the Bulletin of the World Health Organization (WHO). A report by The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development confirms that preterm birth occurs in 12% of all pregnancies in the U.S. In addition to increased mortality risk, prior studies have shown that up to 10% of very preterm infants (22-32 weeks gestation) have cerebral palsy, nearly 40% display mild motor deficiency, and up to 60% experience cognitive impairments, social difficulties and emotional issues.

Babies who are premature are commonly admitted to the NICU for specialized medical attention, allowing time for immature organs to further develop. While interventional studies have demonstrated that exposure to stressors in the NICU may be harmful and reducing stress in premature infants improved outcomes, it is unknown how stressors in neonatal units impacts infant brain development. The present study, led by Drs. Terrie Inder and Gillian Smith, both Washington University researchers at St. Louis Children's Hospital in Missouri, is the first to report on the effects of stress among hospitalized preterm infants and its impact on brain development.

For their observational study, the research team recruited 44 preterm infants within 24 hours of birth from November 2008 to December 2009. Study participants were less than 30 weeks gestation, 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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gillian C. Smith, Jordan Gutovich, Christopher Smyser, Roberta Pineda, Carol Newnham, Tiong H. Tjoeng, Claudine Vavasseur, Michael Wallendorf, Jeffrey Neil, Terrie Inder. Neonatal intensive care unit stress is associated with brain development in preterm infants. Annals of Neurology, 2011; DOI: 10.1002/ana.22545

Cite This Page:

Wiley-Blackwell. "Preterm infants exposed to stressors in neonatal intensive care unit display reduced brain size, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111004113748.htm>.
Wiley-Blackwell. (2011, October 5). Preterm infants exposed to stressors in neonatal intensive care unit display reduced brain size, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111004113748.htm
Wiley-Blackwell. "Preterm infants exposed to stressors in neonatal intensive care unit display reduced brain size, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111004113748.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 22, 2014) Big pharma on the move as Novartis boss, Joe Jimenez, tells Reuters about plans to transform his company via an asset exchange with GSK, and Astra Zeneca shares surge on speculation that Pfizer is looking for a takeover. Joanna Partridge reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is given hands-on demonstrations Tuesday of some of the newest research from DARPA _ the military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. 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:
from the past week

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