AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 1, 2017

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Mapping Brain in Preemies May Predict Later Disability

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Scanning a premature infant’s brain shortly after birth to map the location and volume of lesions, small areas of injury in the brain’s white matter, may help doctors better predict whether the baby will have disabilities later. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 10 babies is born prematurely in the U.S. Lack of oxygen to the brain is the most common form of brain injury in premature infants, resulting in damage to the white matter. White matter contains nerve fibers that maintain contact between various parts of the brain. Damage to white matter can interfere with communication in the brain and the signals it sends to other parts of the body. “In general, babies who are born before 31 weeks gestation have a higher risk of thinking, language and movement problems throughout their lives, so being able to better predict which infants will face certain developmental problems is important so they get the best early interventions possible. Just as important is to be able to reassure parents of infants who may not be at risk,” said study author Steven P. Miller, MDCM, of The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Canada.

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