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Fidgety babies = healthy babies.

European researchers are touting a nonintrusive method of discerning brain damage in newborns.

Heinz F. R. Prechtl of Karl Franzens University of Graz, Austria, and his colleagues used ultrasound brain imaging to categorize 130 premature infants in Austria, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands as being at high risk or low risk for neurological damage. The researchers videotaped each infant for I hour every week until the babies were discharged from the hospital and then for 15 minutes every 3 to 4 weeks until age 24 months.

Of babies with normal fidgeting, 96 percent were diagnosed as neurologically sound. Of babies that didn't fidget much or showed abnormal, abrupt writhing movements, 95 percent had brain damage, the researchers report in the May 10 Lancet.

Recording babies' movements yielded more accurate predictions of brain damage than the ultrasound measures did, say the researchers. They view the filming technique as a cost-effective way to identify babies requiring early therapy.
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Title Annotation:research indicates normal fidgeting in infants is sign of neurological soundness
Author:Seppa, Nathan
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:May 31, 1997
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