Brain chemicals may signal which preemies will have delays - 8 News NOW

Brain chemicals may signal which preemies will have delays

Updated:
© iStockphoto.com / zilli © iStockphoto.com / zilli

TUESDAY, Dec. 17, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- A potential new way to identify premature infants at high risk for delays in motor skills development may have been discovered by researchers.

The researchers conducted brain scans on 43 infants in the United Kingdom who were born at less than 32 weeks' gestation and admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The scans focused on the brain's white matter, which is especially fragile in newborns and at risk for injury. They also conducted tests that measured certain brain chemical levels.

When 40 of the infants were evaluated a year later, 15 had signs of motor problems, according to the study published online Dec. 17 in the journal Radiology. Motor skills are typically described as the precise movement of muscles or groups of muscles to perform a certain act.

The researchers determined that ratios of particular brain chemicals at birth can help predict motor-skill problems. Specifically, increased choline/creatine and decreased N-acetylaspartate/choline were 70 percent accurate in predicting which babies would have motor development delays one year later.

Being able to predict the risk of neurodevelopmental problems in premature babies would help identify those who should receive intensive treatment, and also prove useful in assessing the effectiveness of those therapies, according to study author Giles Kendall of University College London.

Physical therapy is available but very expensive, and the vast majority of premature babies don't need it, he said. "Our hope is to find a robust biomarker that we can use as an outcome measure so that we don't have to wait five or six years to see if an intervention has worked," he said in a journal news release.

Severe disability associated with premature birth has decreased over the past two decades as a result of improved care in NICUs. But many premature infants still have subtle problems that can be difficult to detect, Kendall noted.

"There's a general shift away from simply ensuring the survival of these infants to how to give them the best quality of life. Our research is part of an effort to improve the outcomes for prematurely born infants and to identify earlier which babies are at greater risk," he said.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about premature babies.

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

  • Paula's Health NotesLas Vegas Health NewsMore>>

  • Prostate frozen lumpectomy offers patients an alternative

    Prostate frozen lumpectomy offers patients an alternative

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 3:39 PM EDT2014-07-29 19:39:02 GMT
    More than 230,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year according to the American cancer society. In most cases, surgical removal of the gland is considered the gold standard of treatment, but results of a new study suggest a new treatment might benefit some patients.More>>
    More than 230,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year according to the American cancer society. In most cases, surgical removal of the gland is considered the gold standard of treatment, but results of a new study suggest a new treatment might benefit some patients.More>>
  • New therapies for epilepsy

    New therapies for epilepsy

    Friday, July 25 2014 3:00 PM EDT2014-07-25 19:00:14 GMT
    pilepsy is a chronic neurological condition that affects more than 2.5 million Americans. Uncontrollable seizures plague these patients’ lives. Until now, the only treatments were drugs and major surgery, but new therapies are on the horizon.More>>
    pilepsy is a chronic neurological condition that affects more than 2.5 million Americans. Uncontrollable seizures plague these patients’ lives. Until now, the only treatments were drugs and major surgery, but new therapies are on the horizon.More>>
  • Study touts health care workers with less than bachelor's degree

    Study touts health care workers with less than bachelor's degree

    Thursday, July 24 2014 12:08 AM EDT2014-07-24 04:08:05 GMT
    Among Las Vegas workers with less than a bachelor’s degree only 3.5 percent hold jobs in the most common health care occupations, the lowest percentage among the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, the Brookings Institution reported Wednesday night.More>>
    Among Las Vegas workers with less than a bachelor’s degree only 3.5 percent hold jobs in the most common health care occupations, the lowest percentage among the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, the Brookings Institution reported Wednesday night.More>>
*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KLAS. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.