Speech and Language in Children Born Preterm | Children's Charity

Speech and Language in Children Born Preterm

This research was completed on 30 September 2009

Project LeaderDr T Baldeweg MD
LocationNeuroscience Unit, Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Unit and the Radiology and Physics Unit, Institute of Child Health, University College London in conjunction with the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal Free and University College Medical School, London
Grant awarded29 October 2004
Start date11 July 2005
End date30 September 2009
Grant amount£113,257.00
Grant codeSP4023

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In the UK, about 10,000 babies are born very pre-term each year at less than 32 weeks of gestation. About 10-15% of these children develop major neurological impairments, and around 20-30% of the remainder will develop learning difficulties and/or behavioural problems. These impairments are thought to be a consequence of injury to the immature brain.The aim of this project is to investigate the influence of brain injury on speech and language abilities, which have important implications for learning and social skills throughout life. The researchers will also investigate how the developing brain can compensate for the presence of such injuries by shifting the representation of speech and language functions to other, healthy parts of the brain. This will be done non-invasively using a new technique of brain scanning called functional magnetic resonance imaging. The study will provide important information about the long-term outcome of children who suffered such birth complications. It will also help us to understand the natural compensatory mechanisms and reorganisation of the brain that occurs in some children so that early treatments can be developed to prevent speech and language difficulties.

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