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Brain Growth, Not Size Predicts IQ in Preterm Babies - featured October 14, 2011

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[Source: MSNBC]

How fast a baby's brain grows, rather than how large it is, predicts the child's mental abilities later in life, a new study of preterm infants suggests.

The faster the brain's cerebral cortex grew during the first months of life, the higher the children scored at age 6 on intelligence tests designed to measure their abilities to think, speak, plan and pay attention, the researchers found.

The cerebral cortex is an outer layer of the brain that is critical for language, memory, attention and thought.

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The study found no relationship between the size of a baby's brain and the child's later test scores.

While it's not clear whether the results would also apply to babies born full-term, researchers said the findings are helping them understand what might go wrong in the brains of preterm babies that causes many of those infants to experience cognitive problems later in life.

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Tags: News of the Week Preemies Newsletter 14 October 2011