Brain development of a premature baby
What happens to the brain if a baby is born prematurely?
When you look at your newborn, all you see is cuteness. If you are asked to think about a newborn’s brain, you will probably say, “Aww, my cute little baby has a cute little brain!” Little do you realise how powerful that brain is and how much potential it holds within it.
The human brain develops at a very fast rate and to a very advanced stage while the baby is still in the womb.
The first brain cell is formed in the third week and by the end of the twenty-eighth week, the baby’s brain is developed enough to control the major bodily systems.
But then, from the 28th to 40th week, the brain grows tremendously! It quadruples in size. Billions of neurological connections are formed. The brain learns to control the motor functions and respond to sounds. Cognitive development is at its peak during the last month.
By the time the baby is born (anytime after the 37th week), it has a 100 billion brain cells and is fully functioning!
Amazing! Isn’t it?
But what happens when a baby is born prematurely?
Will the baby survive?
Of course, yes! As far as the brain goes, there is no fatal risk.
Will the baby be smart enough?
Definitely, yes! But there will be some issues which might get resolved over time.
So, what will happen to the brain development of a premature baby?
Well, the brain development of a premature baby will occur outside the womb and in the real world.
So, there’s nothing to worry about, is there?
To understand that, first, we need to consider the different environments in question. Inside the womb, the baby grows in a liquid-filled sac. There is a minimal distraction from the outside world – no noise, no pollution, no touch, no flashy light, easy access to nutrients, easy metabolism. In the real world, all of those are the exact opposite. Plus, the baby has to deal with all the medical hassle (which becomes vital for a preterm baby) with that small brain which makes it prone to injury.
This is a lot of pressure if we think about the brain development of a premature baby. The rate of growth slows down to a great extent. In fact, since the brain has to speed up its reflexive abilities to cope with various stimuli of the external world, some of its parts may stop developing entirely! Here is where it starts going wrong.
A few weeks of prematurity can be dealt with almost normally in the real world. The babies might have a little delayed control over motor skills like standing up, walking or talking but the rest should be typically fine.But if the birth occurs before 34 weeks, the impairments in cognitive development grows more pronounced for each extra week of prematurity. Such babies may run the risk of getting cerebral palsy or some other sort of neurodevelopmental issues. They may also suffer from autism or ADHD later in life.
So, if you have a choice, try to keep the little life in the safest place, even if it’s just for a week! It can go a long way ensuring proper brain development of a premature baby.
About the hospital
Ankura Hospitals is a chain of super-specialty hospitals for women and children in the cyber city of Hyderabad. Set up in the year 2011 in KPHB, near Hitech Railway Station, the Ankura Hospitals family has today spread its wings to Secunderabad, Khammam and Vijayawada.