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Keywords:

  • Adolescents;
  • Brain;
  • Kangaroo mother care;
  • Motor function;
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation

Abstract

Aim:  Given that prematurity has deleterious effects on brain networking development beyond childhood, the study explored whether an early intervention such as Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) in very preterm preemies could have influenced brain motor function up to adolescence.

Methods:  Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was applied over the primary motor cortex (M1) of 39 adolescents born very prematurely (<33 weeks’ gestational age, 21 having received KMC after birth, 18 Controls with no KMC) and nine adolescents born at term (>37 weeks’ gestational age, >2500 g) to assess the functional integrity of motor circuits in each hemisphere (motor planning) and between hemispheres (callosal function).

Results:  All TMS outcomes were similar between KMC and term adolescents, with typical values as in healthy adults, and better than in Controls. KMC adolescents presented faster conduction times revealing more efficient M1 cell synchronization (p < 0.05) and interhemispheric transfer time (p < 0.0001), more frequent inhibitory processes with a better control between hemispheres (p < 0.0001).

Conclusion:  The enhanced synchronization, conduction times and connectivity of cerebral motor pathways in the KMC group suggests that the Kangaroo Mother Care positively influenced the premature brain networks and synaptic efficacy up to adolescence.