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New research into babies' brains "could help in damage recovery"

27 Oct 2005

New research will
investigate the flexibility of children's brains and how children can
compensate for brain damage by switching functions to different parts
of the brain.

Dr Torsten Baldeweg, of the Institute of Child Health
at University College, London, hopes that his work will mean better
identification of problems, which will allow support and treatment to
be given to the child sooner, thereby reducing the number of children
with difficulties in later life.

Baldeweg is particularly keen to address the brain damage that some
babies suffer as a result of premature birth - since 10,000 babies are
born at less than 32 weeks of gestation every year in the UK and of
these 10 to 15 per cent will develop major neurological conditions,
including epilepsy.

A further 20 to 30 per cent will have difficulties with behaviour or learning, including reading or understanding speech.

research team will be scanning the brains of a group of children
between the ages of 10 and 16 who were born prematurely and have some
brain injury. The first scan will use radio frequency waves inside a
magnetic field to map the structure of the brain, and a second scan
will measure the blood flow and blood movement within the brain. These
are called ‘functional scans', because the children are asked to carry
out activities: listening to, or forming speech - whilst the scan is in
progress to highlight the areas of the brain used during the exercise
of that function.

researchers believe that by the age of 10, these changes will be
apparent. The scans will identify where and what the damage was, and
how the brain is exercising the recovered function.

Dr Baldeweg said:

still a mystery why some children recover functions, while others
struggle. We are looking to find out whether this is something
systematic, or whether there are other factors at work that need
further research.

hope that in a few years we will have accurate diagnostic tools such
that we can identify through scans the newly born infant who have
suffered this kind of damage, and offering counselling and speech
therapy, for example, much earlier than we do at present."

Comments: read the 2 comments or add yours


Hi I'm writing this comment as my grandson was born 7 weeks ago. He was born with brain damage.They said his hole brain was affected they also told us he would not act like a normal baby. But then he went for his MRI scan they found out he was fully brain damage and told us he would never survive. but then he proved them wrong he started to breath on his own once he was off the machine after a week he drinks his bottles moves like a normal baby but he cries quite a lot the doctors told us that was his brain telling him he to be adggitated is there anything or anyone out there that can help in anyway please can you get in touch would love for him to be able to do things in the future we have been in and out of hospital and now the hospital is saying his crying could boil down to re-flux or colic but hospital not listening to what we are saying so if anyone can help please contact us as this is are last resort thank Maria.

Submitted by maria (not verified) on

Hello Maria

This must  be an incredibly difficult situation for your family to find themselves in.

It sounds as though you may find it helpful to talk to an organisation who supports families whose child has a brain injury. There is an organisation called Newlife who have a free Nurse Helpline where you can talk through what has happened and get some information and support.


To get in touch with their free Nurse helpline you just call 0800 902 0095 (free from UK landlines). Their opening hours are Monday to Friday 9.30am - 5.00pm and Wednesdays 930am to 7pm (answer phone facility outside normal hours).

I wish your family the best in getting the support they need at this time. If we can be of any more help, please feel free to get in touch.

Epilepsy Action Advice & Information Team

Submitted by todd at Epileps... (not verified) on