Premature babies often have neurodevelopmental problems that can affect their future social and emotional development. Researchers at King’s College London have found differences in the brain of premature babies born before 33 weeks gestation, who have less connectivity between the thalamus and areas of the brain’s cortex known to support higher cognitive function than full term babies.
At the same time, these babies have greater connectivity between the thalamus and an area of the primary sensory cortex involved in processing signals from the face, lips, jaw, tongue and throat. The researchers postulate that this is possibly because of early exposure to breast or bottle feeding.
Neuro-developmental delay can be helped with movement therapy, which supports the linking up of the baby’s brain to form more efficient neural circuits. The gentle passive movements of Rhythmic Movement Training (RMT) would benefit premature babies and help minimise future problems. RMT simulates the movements that babies make naturally during their development.