How would you describe your experience of bringing a little one into this world? Beautiful, amazing, emotional? But the same experience from your baby’s perspective is highly transformational. Birth is hard on your baby’s brain. Even the change in the blood circulation from you to your just-born is a tough change for them. Because of this, a newborn stroke at the time of birth is common. Naturally, a concerned parent may wonder how a newborn stroke impacts brain development.
Newborn stroke: How common is it?
Perinatal stroke can happen either before, during or after birth. | Image: file image
A perinatal stroke in newborn babies is as common as one in 4,000 births. It’s a condition wherein the baby suffers from a stroke just before, during or after birth. Unfortunately, there are no symptoms that indicate a newborn is having or has suffered from a stroke.
Even though this sounds scary, there’s hope, Mom. A recent study conducted by Georgetown University Medical Centre reveals that strokes in newborns may not have lasting impact.
Newborn stroke impacts brain: Do you need to worry about it?
Twelve individuals in the age group of 12 and 25 years were studied as part of the research. These individuals had suffered a left-brain perinatal stroke at the time of birth. The left side of the brain is where language is stored. But findings revealed that all of them used the right side of their brains for language.
Moreover, they all had normal linguistic skills while their basic cognitive skills were excellent. Surprisingly, their right-brain language regions looked like a mirror image of what their left side would have been.
Comparison between language centre activation in normal individuals and those who have suffered a left-brain stroke. | Image: Screengrab from Georgetown University Website
So, almost 10 to 20 years later, it was found that babies who had suffered a stroke on the left side of their brain used their brain’s right side for language.
While newborn stroke impacts the brain in ways that often have no lasting effects, it may still manifest in effects such as a little limp, and slower neural processing. A dominant left hand is also common as their right hand function was impaired.
Newborn stroke impacts brain: What do experts say about these findings?
According to Elissa Newport,PhD, who led this study, these findings demonstrate how brain function works in infants.
Newport is the professor of neurology at Georgetown University School of Medicine and director of the Center For Brain Plasticity and Recovery at Georgetown University and MedStar National Rehabilitation Network.
At least one out of every 4,000 babies born suffer a perinatal stroke. | Image: Instagram
She also said:
“These young brains were very plastic, meaning they could relocate language to a healthy area. We believe there are very important constraints to where functions can be relocated.
“There are very specific regions that take over when part of the brain is injured, depending on the particular function. Each function, like language or spatial skills, has a particular region that can take over if its primary brain area is injured.
“This is a very important discovery that may have implications in the rehabilitation of adult stroke survivors.”
Mom, don’t you think we have some wonderful adaptability as babies? So, even if your little one suffers from this condition, there’s no need to panic. It’s highly likely your little one will grow up normally, just like other kids of their age.
Sources: Pop Sugar, Georgetown University
Image Source: Instagram
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Republished with permission from: theAsianParent Singapore