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Researchers Find Key to Helping Premie Brains Develop

Newly discovered biochemical markers in premature babies’ brains may lead to novel therapies, according to new research. Researchers can now use a specialized MRI technique to detect the early signs of problems with motor skills, learning disabilities, and sensory issues, potentially helping doctors intervene much sooner than currently possible.

“If we are able to detect alterations in brain biochemistry earlier, we have the unique opportunity to begin to develop targeted interventions in the neonatal intensive care unit,” coauthor on the study Catherine Limperopoulos of the Developing Brain Research Laboratory at Children’s National Health System told Fatherly. “This could aid in diagnosis and in monitoring the response…to therapies that we provide at the bedside, or bassinet.”

For the study, Limperopoulos and colleagues first scanned the brains of 37 premature babies (born at 32 weeks or earlier) and 61 full-term infants with proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy, which detects molecular changes in the brain. Researchers focused the scan specifically at the babies’ cerebellums, with the hope of…

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