Genes play key role in brain injury risk for premature babies

May 19, 2014
baby
Credit: CDC.gov

Premature babies' risk of brain injury is influenced by their genes, a new study suggests.

Researchers have identified a link between injury to the developing brain and common variation in genes associated with schizophrenia and the metabolism of fat.

The study builds on previous research, which has shown that being born prematurely – before 37 weeks – is a leading cause of learning and in childhood.

Around half of infants weighing less than 1500g at birth go on to experience difficulties in learning and attention at school age.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh, Imperial College London and King's College London studied genetic samples and MRI scans of more than 80 at the time of discharge from hospital.

The tests and scans revealed that variation in the genetic code of genes known as ARVCF and FADS2 influenced the risk of on MRI in the babies.

Researchers say that future studies could look at how changes in these genes may bring about this risk of – or resilience – to brain injury.

Premature births account for 10 per cent of all births worldwide, according to experts.

Earlier research has shown that being born preterm is closely related to and poor neurodevelopmental outcome.

However, scientists say that they do not fully understand the processes that lead to these problems in some infants.

Dr James Boardman, scientific director of the Jennifer Brown Research Laboratory at the Medical Research Council Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh, said: "Environmental factors such as degree of prematurity at birth and infection play a part, but, as our study has found, they are not the whole story and genetic factors have a role in conferring risk or resilience.

"We hope that our findings will lead to new understanding about the mechanisms that lead to brain injury and ultimately new neuroprotective treatment strategies for ."

The study is published in the journal Pediatrics.

Explore further: Study associates gene with cerebral palsy and death in very preterm babies

Related Stories

Study associates gene with cerebral palsy and death in very preterm babies

February 3, 2014
In a study to be presented on Feb. 6 at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting, in New Orleans, researchers will report that a variant in SERPINE1, a gene involved in inflammation ...

Brain mapping study to improve outcomes for preterm infants

October 22, 2013
A University of Queensland study into how premature babies' brains develop will lead to the earlier diagnosis of brain impairment in preterm children.

Study shows premature birth interrupts vital brain development processes leading to reduced cognitive abilities

May 20, 2013
Researchers from King's College London have for the first time used a novel form of MRI to identify crucial developmental processes in the brain that are vulnerable to the effects of premature birth. This new study, published ...

Brain chemical ratios help predict developmental delays in preterm infants

December 17, 2013
Researchers have identified a potential biomarker for predicting whether a premature infant is at high risk for motor development problems, according to a study published online in the journal Radiology.

Study suggests genetic predisposition to brain injury after preterm birth is sex-specific

February 11, 2013
In a study to be presented on February 14 at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting, in San Francisco, researchers will report that variation in a gene involved in inflammation is ...

Pre-term birth and asthma: Preterm birth may increase the risk of asthma and wheezing disorders during childhood

March 7, 2014
Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) in Boston, Massachusetts, in collaboration with investigators at the Maastricht University Medical Centre and Maastricht University School of Public Health in the Netherlands ...

Recommended for you

New comparison chart sheds light on babies' tears

July 10, 2017
A chart that enables parents and clinicians to calculate if a baby is crying more than it should in the first three months of its life has been created by a Kingston University London researcher, following a study of colic ...

Blood of SIDS infants contains high levels of serotonin

July 3, 2017
Blood samples from infants who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) had high levels of serotonin, a chemical that carries signals along and between nerves, according to a study funded in part by the National Institutes ...

Is your child's 'penicillin allergy' real?

July 3, 2017
(HealthDay)—Many children suspected of being allergic to the inexpensive, first-line antibiotic penicillin actually aren't, new research indicates.

Probiotic supplements failed to prevent babies' infections

July 3, 2017
(HealthDay)—Probiotic supplements may not protect babies from catching colds or stomach bugs in day care, a new clinical trial suggests.

Starting school young can put child wellbeing at risk

June 22, 2017
New research has shown that the youngest pupils in each school year group could be at risk of worse mental health than their older classmates.

Fidget spinners are the latest toy craze, but the medical benefits are unclear

June 21, 2017
Last week, German customs agents in Frankfurt Airport seized 35 metric tons of an imported plastic device, destroying the shipment for public safety purposes before it could infiltrate the country's marketplaces.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.