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Morphine and the baby brain

Morphine gets used a lot in neonatal care, especially as we now understand the need to give appropriate analgesia and sedation to babies receiving intensive care. Yet there has always been a nagging concern that though we do the right thing in early life, we may be creating difficulties for these babies in later childhood. We should take some reassurance about this from a paper by Steinhorn (J Pediatr 2015;166:1200–7) in which 230 babies, all under 30 weeks at birth and a quarter of whom received morphine, were followed up at 2 and 7 years. At 2 years the morphine exposed babies demonstrated more behavioural dysregulation than the others, but there were no behavioural differences at 7 years (though the numbers had whittled down to 30 babies exposed to morphine and 87 not exposed by this time), and there were no differences in brain volumes as measured by MRI scans between the groups at 7 years either.

Stroke and the baby brain

Perinatal strokes are difficult to count because they are not …

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