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Babies born prematurely are prone to problems later in life—they're more likely to develop autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and more likely to struggle in school. A new study that's among the first to investigate brain activity in human fetuses suggests that the underlying neurological issues may begin in the womb. The research, led by Moriah Thomason, a developmental neuroscientist at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan, and published this week in Scientific Reports, provides the first direct evidence of altered brain function in fetuses that go on to be born prematurely. Thomason and others hope the work might ultimately point to ways to remediate or even prevent such early injuries.
↵* Greg Miller is a science and technology journalist in Portland, Oregon.