Premature Babies Grow Up Showing Lack Of Interest For Others, Study Says

By Denise, Parent Herald April 06, 05:30 am

Babies who are born before they turn 37 weeks are called Preterm Babies or most commonly known as Preemies. They are the babies with a tendency to face a lot of complications during their first year of life. Physical problems like breathing issues are usually obvious at birth, but developmental delays may appear later in life. A recent study has discovered that preemies exhibit a different attention pattern, and show less interest in other people leading researchers to believe that they may be more at risk for autism.

According to Masahiro Imafuku, the lead author of the study from Kyoto University, premature children who are treated medically have a higher chance of coming in contact with several people during the first few days than termed babies. These treatments have limited the babies contact with its mother to 14 percent, which is less than the ideal quality of communication.

Researchers also claim that this lack of interaction may cause premature infants to develop peculiar social communication skills that may increase their risk for autism. This is because the preterm babies' nervous system develops differently compared to termed infants during the first year of life, themarshalltown.com reported.

"Preterm infants get a tremendous amount of stress in the early days of birth, because the environment is profoundly different from that of the womb," said Imafuku in a press release. He added: "This makes them much more prone to developmental difficulties, even if they seem perfectly fine when they leave the hospital."

Medical Daily reported that in the study, researchers initially showed two videos of people and shapes to infants between ages six and 12 months. They then explained that the infants' gaze will determine their interest. The more time they spend looking at people means the more interest they have on others.

The researchers found out that preemies stared less at the people, but were drawn more into the shapes. Full term babies, on the other hand, spent most of their time looking at the video with people rather than the shapes. The researchers also observed that full term babies follow people's eye movement, which indicate interest and understanding while premature babies had a hard time following gazes.

"Autism occurs from a mix of genetic and environmental factors. Preterm infants get a tremendous amount of stress in the early days of birth because the environment is profoundly different from that of the womb," says lead researcher Masako Myowa-Yamakoshi. "This makes them much more prone to developmental difficulties, even if they seem perfectly fine when they leave the hospital."

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