You may have been told as a child that coffee was bad for you, but did you know that caffeine is one of the most commonly-used drugs in an NICU? A 2014 study showed that starting caffeine therapy within two days of birth shortened the amount of time needed on a ventilator.
However, a new study in Pediatrics shows that caffeine also helps with brain growth. Medical Xpress reports.
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The study analyzed information from 26 NICUs across Canada. They wanted to see how caffeine therapy for premature babies affected later brain development. What they found was that early caffeine treatment had no long-term negative effects. In fact, it actually improved cognitive scores and reduced the odds of cerebral palsy and hearing impairment.
The study’s head researcher believes that caffeine may help grow dendrites, a part of neurons responsible for receiving signals from other neurons. Also, thanks to caffeine’s effect on breathing, it may improve oxygen supply throughout the body and brain.
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From the science, premature babies may benefit from a little caffeine after all! But don’t dose your baby with coffee to boost their intelligence. The NICUs are using carefully measured doses of pure caffeine, not dripping espresso through an IV. But for premature babies that don’t need ventilation, caffeine might become part of the standard of care thanks to this study.