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Womb needed for proper brain development

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HAMILTON, Ontario, Nov 14, 2005 (UPI via COMTEX) -- A McMaster University scientist says the brains of babies born very prematurely do not develop as well as those who are carried to full-term.

Dr. Sandra Witelson, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at the Hamtilon, Ontario, school said an ultrasound study of the brains of babies born around 26 weeks gestation showed certain aspects of brain development were very compromised compared to infants in utero.

"These findings indicate that the normal early maturation of the brain may be compromised when it takes place outside of the womb," said Witelson. "We found that in very premature babies, a part of the brain doesn't show normal growth after birth, and in fact some parts of the brain didn't change at all from the day the babies were born until they reached what would have been a full-term birth date."

These results have clinical relevance in how premature babies are cared for, as they indicate the early brain may be compromised by being subjected to complex stimulation too early.

The research was presented Monday at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Washington, D.C.


Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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