Professor Torsten Baldeweg and his colleagues from the Institute of Child Health will be studying the changes in brain of children's who were born premature. The study will focus on the changes in their brain activity during their life time. The study will help to identify and understand the problems in their brain which could help to support and assist treatment in these children's. This study is being funded by the Action Medical Research, UK.
The research team would be studying the brain changes in 60 children's of the between the age groups 10 to 16. Results of a survey on the number of premature births has shown that 15% of these children's will have neurological problems and an other 20-30% of children will have difficulties in learning, reading, understanding or in behavior. The researchers will be using two types of scans to analyse brain function. The first scan will use radio frequency waves inside a magnetic field to map the structure of the brain. The second scan will measure the blood flow and blood movement within the brain while children carry out activities such as listening to, or forming speech.
The researchers are confident that the results of the study will help to reduce the difficulties these premature babies face in their adulthood. The study will also lead to discovery of new early diagnostic tools which can help to identify through simple scan reports of the newly born infants the kind of brain damage these children's have and could help in decision making of treatment as most of the children's with premature defects recover naturally leading a normal life. While some other children's will require treatments and supportive care of counseling and speech therapies.
Andrew Proctor, of Action Medical Research said, "This groundbreaking study is interesting because it seeks to isolate one of the effects of premature birth, so that it can be identified earlier and the child given much more support to overcome any difficulties as soon as possible and it is well known that 10% of babies need some kind of special care when they are born - we think this is too many and that babies are dying unnecessarily because too little money is invested in projects like this." <
A spokeswoman for the premature baby charity Bliss said, "This is a very welcome piece of research which could have a significant impact on the quality of life of the 80,000 babies born prematurely or sick in the UK each year and finding new ways to identify brain damage earlier in these vulnerable infants may help to reduce some of the difficulties they can face later in life."
Source: BBC News