Two blood-building drugs injected soon after birth may give tiny preemies a lasting benefit, boosting brain development and IQ by age 4, a first-of-its-kind study found.

The study was small but the implications are big if larger, longer studies prove the drugs help even the playing field for these children, experts say.

Babies who got the medicine scored much better by age 4 on measures of intelligence, language and memory than preemies who didn’t get it. The medicine group’s scores on an important behavior measure were just as good as a control group of 4-year-olds born on time at a normal weight.

 

Zika virus found in fetus’ brain

The Zika virus, thought to be responsible for a surge in birth defects in Brazil, has been found inside the abnormally small brain of an aborted fetus at roughly 29 weeks of gestation, a team of researchers reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

An autopsy revealed a brain that had virtually none of the folds and convolutions that would usually be seen on the brain’s surface in a fetus at that point in its development. Calcium deposits were evident throughout the brain’s white matter — the tissue that connects neurons and brain regions to one another.

 

Eating fish linked to obesity in tots

Newborns whose mothers ate fish more than three times a week during pregnancy grew faster in their first two years of life and were more likely to be overweight or obese at 4 and 6 years old than babies born to mothers who ate little to no fish during pregnancy, a new study says.

In a large study conducted across several countries, researchers found that the weight-related effects of high fish consumption were more pronounced in girls.

Researchers suggested two explanations for their finding: that the Omega-3 fatty acids found plentifully in fish might predispose fetal stem cells to differentiate into fat cells, or that pollutants found in fish disrupt fetal hormones related to metabolism and prompt greater fat storage. But they acknowledged that the possibility that contaminants are to blame for the effect is “speculative.”

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