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Brain Development of Premature Babies

Newborn Care By Dr Poonam Sachdev , Onlymyhealth editorial team / May 23, 2011
Brain Development of Premature Babies

Last two months in womb are crucial for brain development.

A Premature BabyIn premature babies, various organs systems of such as lungs and brain are not fully mature and developed at birth. According to experts and research, most of the foetal brain development occurs during the last trimester of pregnancy. Hence inadequate brain development and risk of developmental abnormalities are higher in babies who are born more premature. Here are some facts on brain development of premature babies.


Brain development


The surface of a normal adult brain (medically known as the cortex) looks like a walnut. In the foetus, in the early stages of pregnancy the cortex looks like a coffee bean and during the last trimester it develops and changes appearance and by term gestation it starts looking like a walnut.  So if a baby is born prematurely these changes occur later. Some research has shown that the brain of premature babies probably may not always develop as well as a full term neonate.


Other issues with premature babies


Premature babies are not physically ready for life outside the womb.  Hence, the newborn care may involve more medical attention with extra precautions after delivery. Some babies may need to be admitted into neonatal intensive care units. In premature babies significant developmental problems may occur in a number of other areas, including heart and lung function, proper maintenance of body temperature, and feeding. All these (stress of premature birth, need for invasive medical care and dysfunction of other organ system) can affect the brain development and function and result in slower rate of brain growth in preterm babies.


Developmental Delays


Researchers have noted that about 50% of all very premature babies (born before the 30-week gestation) who survive develop mental or physical disability.  The risk of developing disability is higher in boys as compared to girls born after the same gestation. Premature babies may face learning and other cognitive developmental problems in school, as compared full term born peers. The chances of developmental delays (cognitive, language and motor skills) are more in babies who are extremely premature or have severe health complications.


Consulting your Paediatrician


Regular follow up visits to your paediatrician is an important part of care of a premature baby after you leave the hospital. This will help to monitor physical and brain development and also the general condition of the baby. Appropriate care and early intervention for any developmental problem helps to treat developmental delays better.

All is not lost because your baby is premature. If you take proper care and look after your baby wholeheartedly, there are excellent chances of your baby leading a healthy and successful life!  


Read more articles on Newborn Care.




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