Recent articles about prematurity

The September 2017 issue of Acta Paediatrica had several interesting articles of some interest to the autism community. This is a classical medical journal that emphasizes clinical studies of value in the everyday practice of pediatrics. I had the pleasure of meeting its editor, Hugo Lagercrantz, and publishing an article about TMS and autism in this journal.  For previous blogs about prematurity and autism see: Extreme prematurity and autism and enlargement of the brain ventricles in preterm infants who later on exhibit autistic symptoms.

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Hugo Lagercrantz

Preterm birth needs to be considered a chronic condition
In this review, Raju et al report that an overwhelming majority of adults born preterm were healthy and well. However, a small, but significant, fraction of them still faced a higher risk of developing neuropsychological and behavioural problems, hypersensitive disorders and metabolic syndrome earlier than their term-born counterparts. The authors maintain that preterm birth needs to be considered a chronic condition, with a slight increase in the risk for long-term morbidities. Therefore, obtaining a birth history from all patients, irrespective of their age, should be routine, as this would help early diagnoses and timely interventions. Nilsson and Ignell discuss the paper.

Important EEG features for the assessment of brain maturation in premature infants
This review by Pavlidis et al describes the maturational features of the baseline electroencephalogram (EEG) in the neurologically healthy preterm infant. Features such as continuity, sleep state, synchrony and transient waveforms are described also in extremely preterm infants. Illustrated examples are presented. The review demonstrates the importance of multichannel conventional EEG monitoring for preterm infants as many of the features described are not apparent if limited channel EEG monitors are used.

Risk factors for executive function difficulties in preschool and early school-age preterm children
Preterm children face a higher risk of developing executive function difficulties than their full-term peers, according to an Australian study by O’Meagher et al. Deficits in executive function influence problem-solving abilities and can have a substantial impact on social and academic function and quality of life. This study identified social risks and, in particular, pointed out that the main carer’s education level was a key predictor for cognitive and executive function difficulties in preterm children when they started school. Skranes comments on the findings.

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