A study on mice may point the way to new recommendations on how much stimulus to give to premature babies who were born without enough oxygen for their development. Eureka Alert reported on the study.
It is known that too much stimulation for a premature baby will cause them too much stress. The current recommendation is to provide a quiet environment. However, there have been studies about this practice that show that treatment in private family rooms created lower language and motor scores.
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That led the researchers to wonder just how much stimulation is needed to help a baby’s brain heal without overwhelming it. Using an experimental model with mice, they raised some in different environments then tested their ability to climb a narrow beam. Those raised with social stimulation, different objects, and a running wheel did much better than those just provided with food, water, and nesting material.
Further experiments showed that all three components needed to be present for improved development. The mice needed exercise, socialization, and cognitive stimulation. These also needed to be present for long enough and early enough to have the effect.
More research is needed, but this points to a promising way to help children born with brain damage due to a lack of oxygen to help them minimize the amount of lasting damage.