A study conducted at Washington University in St. Louis suggests early therapeutic interventions in the neonatal intensive care unit for premature infants are necessary to improve their long-term development.

 Research Professor Bobbi Pineda says she found that premature infants that are at or near their original due dates have developmental differences compared for full-term infants.

Her study reported on 75 infants who were evaluated in the NICU at 34 weeks gestation and again at 40 weeks, which is the length of a full-term pregnancy.

“What we did as part of our study is we evaluated early nerve behavior,” she says. “So, how well the infant moves and interacts and how excitable they are, and whole number of different demands.”

She says the study found changes that the infants have in those final weeks prior to their original due date. “And what we found is that there are significant changes that these infants have in those final six weeks,” she says.

Pineda says the therapeutic interventions offered also include physical development of the infant by helping them be able to achieve adequate muscle tone in order to move against gravity and by learning to interact with caregivers.

The interventions also include gaining appropriate levels of arousal for the preemies’ to engage with care givers.


AUDIO: Mary Farucci reports. (:59)