People born prematurely may suffer brain development problems that directly affect their memory and learning abilities.
Research showed reduced “plasticity” in the brains of teenagers who were born preterm (at or before 37 weeks gestation).
Preterm adolescents were compared with those born at term, and also with term-born adults. Levels of cortisol, normally produced in response to stress, were also measured to better understand the chemical and hormonal differences between the groups.
Preterm teens also had low levels of cortisol in their saliva, which was highly predictive of this reduced brain responsiveness. This might be important for the development of a possible therapy to overcome the neuroplasticity problem.