Premature birth affects infants' brain health, changes sleep brain activity

A new study has highlighted that preterm birth can change an infants' brain activity while they are sleeping and also affects their future brain health. The study published in the journal Nature Communications analysed brain activity data collected from 94 infants from Helsinki, Finland including 42 infants who had been born extremely premature at 27 weeks and a control group of 52 infants who had been born at full term. "We found babies born at full term had marked reorganisation of brain activity during different states of sleep, while it wasn't as distinct in very premature babies," Dr Cocchi added. The study author also explained that sleep is like other behaviors and a 'good sleep relies upon the proper organisation of dynamic patterns of brain activity during different sleep states.' For the study, researchers used high-density electroencephalography (EEG) and other tools to map interactions between different brain regions when babies were in active sleep and quiet sleep. He added, "The project was unique because it used advanced modelling methods to address a scientific problem that had potential implications for lifelong brain health." "These tools have been previously used to describe complex systems such as the acoustics of musical instruments, but we've been able to adapt it to brain waves in sleeping babies." Neuroscientists, physicists, neonatal clinical neurophysiologists, psychiatrists, and biomedical engineers from several hospital and research facilities across the world collaborated for the study.