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Premature babies at risk for psychiatric disorders

Premature babies are at risk for certain psychiatric disorders as teenagers, including attention deficit hyperactivity and depression.

Premature babies at risk for psychiatric disorders

Premature babies are at risk for certain psychiatric disorders as teenagers, including attention deficit hyperactivity and depression. These mental health problems are the result of brain injuries affecting cortical development as well as neural connectivity.

The researchers followed 400 premature infants who had abnormal brain ultrasounds at birth until they were 16 years old in America. As teens, the study participants were asked questions and given mental tests.

The researchers found a link between brain injuries suffered by premature babies right before or after birth and specific psychiatric disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity, tic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, and major depression. Although premature babies are at risk for these injuries, it was also found that they can be detected through brain ultrasounds. This finding not only provides insight into the causes of psychiatric disorders, it could also help prevent them in the future.

It was concluded that a better understanding of the link between brain injuries suffered by premature babies and later mental health issues could lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment of these conditions. Additional studies are needed to examine how brain injuries among premature babies relate to other common adult psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia.
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