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Researchers find “skateboard” for premature babies helps reduce delays in development

Researchers have found a medical “skateboard” for premature babies helps reduce delays in their development.

The researchers from Paris Cité University in France found that using a special kind of medical “skateboard” can provide an “effective way to promote motor and general development in very premature infants”.

Very premature babies, born before 32 weeks gestation, can develop various impairments including delays in learning to crawl and walk, as well as later difficulties with catching a ball and sometimes more severe conditions such as cerebral palsy.

The baby can lie on the medical “skateboard” with stabilisers and learn to push him or herself along. It is designed to provide a supported environment like the uterus in which the baby can learn these important skills.

The skateboard was an effective method to improve motor and general development

One of the authors of the study, Marianne Barbu-Roth, explains that, due to their shortened time in the womb, babies born preterm have had less time to practice moving their limbs and their muscles have not developed properly. These can create problems for their development later in life.

The researchers “randomly allocated 44 premature infants born before 32 weeks’ gestation without major brain damage to one of three conditions in the intervention study: crawling on a mini-skateboard, the Crawliskate (Crawli); prone positioning control (Mattress); or standard care (Control).”

They found that the use of the skateboard was an effective method to improve motor and general development. The researchers also suggest that the way of promoting motor and general development could be something that parents of premature babies can do themselves.

The New Scientist has released a short video that shows a baby lying on the skateboard and learning how to crawl. The researchers found a clear link between newborns who used the skateboard early and more mature crawling later in development.

Almost four out of five babies born prematurely between 22 and 28 weeks gestation survive to discharge from the hospital according to recent research.

A study, ‘Mortality, In-Hospital Morbidity, Care Practices, and 2-Year Outcomes for Extremely Preterm Infants in the US, 2013-2018’, by Dr Edward F Bell of the University of Iowa, found that from 2013 to 2018, with infants born between 22 and 28 weeks gestation, “survival to discharge occurred in 78.3% and was significantly improved compared with a historical rate of 76.0% among infants born in 2008-2012”.

The study, which took place between 2013 and 2018, assessed 10,877 infants born between 22 and 28 weeks gestation in 19 academic medical centres across the US.

This means that almost four out of five extremely prematurely born babies survived and were able to be assessed at 22-26 months corrected age (22-26 months from their due date) for a number of health and functional outcomes.

Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said “The situation for premature babies is improving all the time. It’s so exciting that such an apparently simple intervention can make such a difference for premature babies.”

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