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Multidisciplinary research helps children thrive after a rough start

Multidisciplinary research helps children thrive after a rough start

Julia, now an 11-year-old child who suffered a brain infarct as a newborn. Photo: Annabel Jeuring.

Babies born prematurely or after complications around birth are surviving at higher rates than ever before. But, because their brain development is disrupted, as much as half of them might face long-term health, mental and developmental disabilities, including difficulties with language, learning, emotional regulation, social functioning and behaviour. Researchers at UMC Utrecht and Utrecht University are starting to unravel the relation between brain and child development, while trailblazing new ways to reduce the lifelong consequences of a tough start in life: from regenerative medicine and the use of predictive algorithms to parenting support programmes.

Multidisciplinary research by UMC Utrecht and Utrecht University not only helps explain the origins of difficulties these children face today but also contributes to better ways to predict, treat and prevent the lifelong consequences that many of them face. An interesting and in-depth article about the breadth of areas in which this research takes place was recently published on the university's website. In it, several researchers talk about how their work contributes to the healthy development of children who have had a difficult start.

Manon Benders talks about how Julia (just 30 hours when she suffered a brain infarct), recovered well thanks to an experimental treatment based on regenerative medicine and Jeroen Dudink explains how a predictive algorithm can ensure that the vulnerable, newborn brain gets the sleep it needs. Jeroen Pasterkamp explains how organoids (mini-organs made from human cells) are used in research to learn more about the prenatal and neonatal brain. 

You can read about this and more in the article “Beyond Survival” on the website of Utrecht University. Also available in Dutch : “Na het overleven”. 

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