-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
WEDNESDAY, July 20 (HealthDay News) -- Premature infants are at
greater risk for certain psychiatric disorders as teenagers,
including attention deficit hyperactivity and depression, a new
These mental health problems are the result of brain injuries
affecting cortical development as well as neural connectivity, said
the study authors, from Columbia University Medical Center.
Although "preemies" are at risk for these injuries, the study
also found that they can be detected through brain ultrasounds.
This finding not only provides insight into the causes of
psychiatric disorders, it could also help prevent them in the
future, the scientists said.
The researchers followed 400 premature infants who had abnormal
brain ultrasounds at birth until they were 16 years old. As teens,
the study participants were asked questions and given cognitive
tests. The study found a link between brain injuries suffered by
preemies right before or after birth and specific psychiatric
disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity, tic disorders,
obsessive compulsive disorder, and major depression.
The study authors concluded that a better understanding of the
link between brain injuries suffered by preemies and later mental
health issues could lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment of
The researchers said additional studies are needed to examine
how brain injuries among premature babies relate to other common
adult psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia.
The study's findings were published in the July issue of the
Archives of General Psychiatry. The study was supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the March of Dimes.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on
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