Memory and attention problems may follow preemies into adulthood

December 05, 2011

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Babies born at a very low birth weight are more likely to have memory and attention problems when they become adults than babies born at a low to normal weight, according to a study published in the December 6, 2011, print issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

"While we know babies born severely preterm generally achieve lower cognitive test scores, this is one of the first studies to look at how severely low birth weight impacts executive functioning, such as attention and visual memory, when these babies become young adults," said study author professor Katri Räikkönen, PhD, of the University of Helsinki in Finland.

For the Helsinki Study of Very Low Birth Weight Adults, 103 adults born with a very low birth weight (less than 3.3 pounds) and 105 adults who weighed more than 3.3 pounds at the time of birth were given tests that measured their thinking skills, including vocabulary, ability to understand words, memory and IQ. Participants were between the ages of 21 and 30.

The study found that adults with very low birth weight scored lower or performed slower in general intelligence, executive functioning and attention and visual memory compared to the adults born at a low to normal weight. For example, those with a very low birth weight scored an average 8.4 points (0.57 standard deviation units) lower on the full IQ test and 0.30-0.54 standard deviation units lower on the executive functioning and attention and memory tests.

Researchers also found those with very low birth weight were more likely to have received remedial education while in school, but there were no differences in their self-reported academic performance.

"Interestingly, average school grades and the number of years of education completed were not affected by low birth weight in our study," said Räikkönen. "However, our research underscores the importance of a baby's full development in the womb."
-end-
The study was supported by the Academy of Finland, University of Helsinki, the Finnish Medical Society Duodecim, Medical Society of Finland, the Finnish Foundation for Pediatric Research, the Finnish Special Governmental Subsidy for Health Sciences, the Jalmari and Rauha Ahokas Foundation, the Juho Vainio Foundation, the Emil Aaltonen Foundation, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, The Päivikki and Sakari Sohlberg Foundation, the Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation, the Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation, the Orion-Pharma Foundation, the Sigrid Juselius Foundation, the Finnish National Graduate School of Clinical Investigation, the Wilhelm and Else Stockmann Foundation and the Pediatric Graduate School, University of Helsinki.

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of 24,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as stroke, Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit http://www.aan.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.

American Academy of Neurology

Related Memory Articles from Brightsurf:

Memory of the Venus flytrap
In a study to be published in Nature Plants, a graduate student Mr.

Memory protein
When UC Santa Barbara materials scientist Omar Saleh and graduate student Ian Morgan sought to understand the mechanical behaviors of disordered proteins in the lab, they expected that after being stretched, one particular model protein would snap back instantaneously, like a rubber band.

Previously claimed memory boosting font 'Sans Forgetica' does not actually boost memory
It was previously claimed that the font Sans Forgetica could enhance people's memory for information, however researchers from the University of Warwick and the University of Waikato, New Zealand, have found after carrying out numerous experiments that the font does not enhance memory.

Memory boost with just one look
HRL Laboratories, LLC, researchers have published results showing that targeted transcranial electrical stimulation during slow-wave sleep can improve metamemories of specific episodes by 20% after only one viewing of the episode, compared to controls.

VR is not suited to visual memory?!
Toyohashi university of technology researcher and a research team at Tokyo Denki University have found that virtual reality (VR) may interfere with visual memory.

The genetic signature of memory
Despite their importance in memory, the human cortex and subcortex display a distinct collection of 'gene signatures.' The work recently published in eNeuro increases our understanding of how the brain creates memories and identifies potential genes for further investigation.

How long does memory last? For shape memory alloys, the longer the better
Scientists captured live action details of the phase transitions of shape memory alloys, giving them a better idea how to improve their properties for applications.

A NEAT discovery about memory
UAB researchers say over expression of NEAT1, an noncoding RNA, appears to diminish the ability of older brains to form memories.

Molecular memory can be used to increase the memory capacity of hard disks
Researchers at the University of Jyväskylä have taken part in an international British-Finnish-Chinese collaboration where the first molecule capable of remembering the direction of a magnetic above liquid nitrogen temperatures has been prepared and characterized.

Memory transferred between snails
Memories can be transferred between organisms by extracting ribonucleic acid (RNA) from a trained animal and injecting it into an untrained animal, as demonstrated in a study of sea snails published in eNeuro.

Read More: Memory News and Memory Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.