The investigators then compared the scans to 232 adults born full term. More specifically, they checked the volume of the grey matter, or the part of the brain considered as the marker for brain age. The grey matter also houses the brain regions that are responsible for sensory, memory, and other cognitive functions.
Surprisingly, those born very prematurely had lower grey matter volume in both adolescence and adulthood. This suggests that their brains are “older” than their full-term counterparts.
Dr. Chiara Nosarti emphasized that the results are surprising; after all, previous studies noted delayed brain maturation in preemies. In the end, she clarified that they haven’t figured out yet how these changes relate to the participants’ daily living.
As mentioned earlier, brain development varies regardless of the baby’s maturity at birth. Some reports say that preemies developed more slowly than term infants, while other studies indicate that premature babies are possibly smarter.
At the end of the day, parents must reduce the risk of preterm birth as it’s associated with numerous health complications. Once the baby is born, parents can promote health by working closely with their child’s pediatrician.
Learn more about Premature Babies here.