Friday, February 22, 2013

Michigan researchers safely study brains of unborn children while in the womb

 From Detroit News (Rob Widdis)
Researchers at Wayne State University have published a study showing brain connectivity in unborn children. They hope this discovery "could lead to new ways to prevent and treat brain disorders such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia."
Research has shown brain disorders may begin in fetal life, but there hasn't been a method for seeing and studying brain development at that stage.

But Thomason's research showed the fetal brain can be studied while in the womb using MRI scans that do not threaten the health of the infant or mother. This can provide a mechanism for researchers to study fetal brain connections as they are forming and possibly learn how a lack of connections can result in brain disorders.

"By understanding how a lack of (brain) connectivity occurs, the research community can begin to identify what things influence early brain development," Thomason said.

"If we know what disrupts or impedes healthy brain development, then we have a better shot at finding a way to treat and possibly prevent it."