Tuesday September 25, 2018

How preterm birth may impact language skills of your baby

Developmental differences in the nonprimary auditory cortex of preterm infants are associated with reduced expressive language ability, such as gesturing and vocabulary, in a follow-up assessment at two years of age

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The latest study has found that preterm birth may affect language skills on your baby. Pixabay
The latest study has found that preterm birth may affect language skills on your baby. Pixabay
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  • Preterm infants are prone to poorer language skills in early childhood, a study finds
  • The team used diffusion neuroimaging to study development of the auditory cortex in the infants’ brains
  • The study was published in eNeuro

Altered development of a part of brain region essential to hearing and understanding sound in preterm infants is associated with poorer language skills in early childhood, a study has found.

The neural machinery that supports hearing is typically functional by 15 weeks before birth, making babies sensitive to speech and language while they are still in the womb.

ALSO READ: Premature birth can be controlled by a Diabetes drug

The developmental disturbances to auditory cortex may underlie speech and language impairments at age 2. Pixabay
The developmental disturbances to auditory cortex may underlie speech and language impairments at age 2. Pixabay

The team focussed on the primary auditory cortex — which is the first cortical region to receive auditory signals from the ears via other parts of the brain — and the nonprimary auditory cortex — which plays a more sophisticated role in processing those stimuli.

The analysis revealed that the primary auditory cortex matures earlier but more slowly than the nonprimary auditory cortex, which changes rapidly in the last 10 weeks of the typical gestation period.

Developmental differences in the nonprimary auditory cortex of preterm infants were associated with reduced expressive language ability, such as gesturing and vocabulary, in a follow-up assessment at two years of age.

“We have a pretty limited understanding of how the auditory brain develops in preterm infants,” said lead author Brian Monson, Professor at the varsity.

For the study, reported in the journal eNeuro, the team examined 90 premature infants born prior to 30 weeks gestation, and 15 full-term babies. Pixabay
For the study, reported in the journal eNeuro, the team examined 90 premature infants born prior to 30 weeks gestation, and 15 full-term babies. Pixabay

“We know from previous research on full-term newborns that not only are foetuses hearing, but they’re also listening and learning,” Monson added.

ALSO READ: Number of Girls born alive for every 1,000 Boys declined over last 65 years from 946 to 887

The team used diffusion neuroimaging to study development of the auditory cortex in the infants’ brains.

“This technique measures the diffusion of water in the brain tissues, which can tell you a lot about the development of neurons and axons,” Monson said.

“It’s exciting to me that we may be able to use this technique to help predict later language ability in infants who are born preterm,” Monson noted. (IANS)

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Foetal Immune Rejection Could be the Reason of Preterm Labor

For the new study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the team tested umbilical cord blood, which contains foetal cells, along with blood taken from nearly 200 women who had healthy pregnancies and those who went into early labour.

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pregnant, cesarean
However, when it comes to vaginal delivery, the first thought that crosses most womens' minds is of the labour pain which develops a fear of the VBAC, Pixabay

Foetal immune rejection may be one of the causes for preterm labour — a common pregnancy complication leading to birth occurring before the 37th week of pregnancy, researchers say.

The findings showed that it may sometimes happen when the foetal immune system “wakes up” too early and begins to reject the mother, causing the uterus to start contracting.

The researchers think the foetal immune system becomes triggered in a case of mistaken identity.

The findings showed that it may sometimes happen when the foetal immune system "wakes up" too early and begins to reject the mother, causing the uterus to start contracting.
Representational Image, pexels

An initial infection in the mother can result in inflammation and arouse the foetal immune system. The foetal immune cells confuse the mother’s cells for an invader and mount an attack, in the form of inflammatory chemicals.

These chemicals then trigger contractions, leading to preterm labour, the leading cause of infant mortality, the researchers explained.

“The dogma has always been that the foetus has a very immature immune system, and as a result, people haven’t really considered its possible role in pregnancy complications,” said Tippi MacKenzie, Associate Professor at the University of California-San Francisco.

“We showed that in patients who have preterm labour as a result of some kind of infection or inflammation — the most common cause of preterm labour — the foetal immune system awakens prematurely and may trigger labour,” MacKenzie added.

For the new study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the team tested umbilical cord blood, which contains foetal cells, along with blood taken from nearly 200 women who had healthy pregnancies and those who went into early labour.

Also Read: Using aspirin may reduce obesity’s effect on cancer, finds study 

While the scientists saw no signs of an immune response in the mother’s blood, they instead, detected activation in two types of immune cells — T-cells and dendritic cells — in the cord blood of preterm infants.

The researchers also found greater numbers of the mother’s cells circulating in the cord blood of preterm infants. (IANS)