Washington: A study has revealed that preterm babies, by the time they become adolescent, can have cognition similar to those born at term.
The study by the University Of Adelaide's Robinson Research Institute suggested that as long as the preterm child experiences no brain injury in early life, their cognitive abilities as a teenager can potentially be as good as their term-born peers.
Julia Pitcher, one of the lead authors of the study, said that they looked at the factors that determine cognitive abilities in early adolescence, and found that whether or not one was born preterm, it appeared to play a relatively minor role.
Luke Schneider, research officer, said that the results of their study has provided further proof that those born at term tend to have better cognitive abilities, such as working memory, brain processing efficiency and general intellectual ability, but the postnatal environment seemed to be playing an important role in whether or not a preterm child is able to overcome that initial risk of reduced brain development.
Schneider, further added that reduced connectivity in the brain, associated with micro-structural abnormalities from preterm birth, was likely contributing to the cognitive deficits in these children, but those abnormalities seemed to be amenable to improvement depending on the environment the child grows up in, particularly as an infant, and might account for why some preterm children do better than others.
Pitcher added that they don't know yet about the different factors in the home environment that drive specific aspects of brain development, but early nutrition and enrichment through physical and intellectual stimulation were likely to have key roles.
This study is published in the Journal of Pediatrics.