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Concept: Infancy


Preterm infants are at increased risk of language-related problems later in life; however, few studies have examined the effects of preterm birth on cerebral responses to speech at very early developmental stages. This study examined cerebral activation and functional connectivity in response to infant-directed speech (IDS) and adult-directed speech (ADS) in full-term neonates and preterm infants at term-equivalent age using 94-channel near-infrared spectroscopy. The results showed that compared with ADS, IDS increased activity in larger brain areas such as the bilateral frontotemporal, temporal, and temporoparietal regions, both in full-term and preterm infants. Preterm infants exhibited decreased activity in response to speech stimuli in the right temporal region compared with full-term infants, although the significance was low. Moreover, preterm infants exhibited increased interhemispheric connectivity compared with full-term controls, especially in the temporal and temporoparietal regions. These differences suggest that preterm infants may follow different developmental trajectories from those born at term owing to differences in intrauterine and extrauterine development.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Cerebral cortex, Cervix, Child development, Preterm birth, Infancy, Infant massage


Maternity leave reduces neonatal and infant mortality rates in high-income countries. However, the impact of maternity leave on infant health has not been rigorously evaluated in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). In this study, we utilized a difference-in-differences approach to evaluate whether paid maternity leave policies affect infant mortality in LMICs.

Concepts: Infant, Infant mortality, Parental leave, Infancy


We report the largest experience, to our knowledge, of home cardiorespiratory monitoring in 47,495 newborns using the novel Owlet Smart Sock (OSS) technology (October 2015 to May 2017). On average, 47,495 newborns were monitored for 6 months, 4.5 d/wk, 9.9 h/d. Continuous readings of oxygen saturation and heart rate were obtained from 39,626 full-term newborns. OSS users were likely first-time parents in their 30s with at least a college degree; 37% had a healthcare professional in the family; and 28% were at or below median income level per the US Census Bureau. “Peace of mind” was the reason to own an OSS in 75%, and 82% of parents followed Safe Sleep Guidelines. A total of 94% of parents reported a better quality of sleep. The fast and continuous pace of device adoption and reported experience suggest excellent parental acceptance of the OSS. Prospective studies are warranted to further evaluate its applications in the high-risk newborn population.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Population, Parent, Household income in the United States, Infancy, United States Census, United States Census Bureau, Census


Kangaroo mother care (KMC) is a multifaceted intervention for preterm and low birth weight infants and their parents. Short- and mid-term benefits of KMC on survival, neurodevelopment, breastfeeding, and the quality of mother-infant bonding were documented in a randomized controlled trial (RCT) conducted in Colombia from 1993 to 1996. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the persistence of these results in young adulthood.

Concepts: Present, Pregnancy, Childbirth, Randomized controlled trial, Pediatrics, Infancy, Infant massage


To evaluate the effects of behavioral interventions on the sleep/wakefulness of infants, parent and infant stress, and later child emotional/behavioral problems, and parent-child attachment.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Infant, Randomized controlled trial, Sleep, Infant mortality, Developmental psychology, Infancy, Attachment parenting


Sepsis in early infancy results in one million annual deaths worldwide, most of them in developing countries. No efficient means of prevention is currently available. Here we report on a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of an oral synbiotic preparation (Lactobacillus plantarum plus fructooligosaccharide) in rural Indian newborns. We enrolled 4,556 infants that were at least 2,000 g at birth, at least 35 weeks of gestation, and with no signs of sepsis or other morbidity, and monitored them for 60 days. We show a significant reduction in the primary outcome (combination of sepsis and death) in the treatment arm (risk ratio 0.60, 95% confidence interval 0.48-0.74), with few deaths (4 placebo, 6 synbiotic). Significant reductions were also observed for culture-positive and culture-negative sepsis and lower respiratory tract infections. These findings suggest that a large proportion of neonatal sepsis in developing countries could be effectively prevented using a synbiotic containing L. plantarum ATCC-202195.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Infant, Fetus, Respiratory system, Upper respiratory tract, Lactobacillus plantarum, Infancy


OBJECTIVE:Immune stimulation through exposure to commensal microbes may protect against allergy development. Oral microbes may be transferred from parents to infants via pacifiers. We investigated whether pacifier cleaning practices affected the risk of allergy development.METHODS:A birth-cohort of 184 infants was examined for clinical allergy and sensitization to airborne and food allergens at 18 and 36 months of age and, in addition, promptly on occurrence of symptoms. Pacifier use and pacifier cleaning practices were recorded during interviews with the parents when the children were 6 months old. The oral microbiota of the infants was characterized by analysis of saliva samples collected at 4 months of age.RESULTS:Children whose parents “cleaned” their pacifier by sucking it (n = 65) were less likely to have asthma (odds ratio [OR] 0.12; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.01-0.99), eczema (OR 0.37; 95% CI 0.15-0.91), and sensitization (OR 0.37; 95% CI 0.10-1.27) at 18 months of age than children whose parents did not use this cleaning technique (n = 58). Protection against eczema remained at age 36 months (hazard ratio 0.51; P = .04). Vaginal delivery and parental pacifier sucking yielded independent and additive protective effects against eczema development. The salivary microbiota differed between children whose parents cleaned their pacifier by sucking it and children whose parents did not use this practice.CONCLUSIONS:Parental sucking of their infant’s pacifier may reduce the risk of allergy development, possibly via immune stimulation by microbes transferred to the infant via the parent’s saliva.

Concepts: Childbirth, Infant, Asthma, Allergy, Breastfeeding, Pacifier, Food allergy, Infancy


Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), the leading cause of postneonatal infant mortality, likely comprises heterogeneous disorders with the common phenotype of sudden death without explanation upon postmortem investigation. Previously, we reported that ∼40% of SIDS deaths are associated with abnormalities in serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) in regions of the brainstem critical in homeostatic regulation. Here we tested the hypothesis that SIDS is associated with an alteration in serum 5-HT levels. Serum 5-HT, adjusted for postconceptional age, was significantly elevated (95%) in SIDS infants (n = 61) compared with autopsied controls (n = 15) [SIDS, 177.2 ± 15.1 (mean ± SE) ng/mL versus controls, 91.1 ± 30.6 ng/mL] (P = 0.014), as determined by ELISA. This increase was validated using high-performance liquid chromatography. Thirty-one percent (19/61) of SIDS cases had 5-HT levels greater than 2 SDs above the mean of the controls, thus defining a subset of SIDS cases with elevated 5-HT. There was no association between genotypes of the serotonin transporter promoter region polymorphism and serum 5-HT level. This study demonstrates that SIDS is associated with peripheral abnormalities in the 5-HT pathway. High serum 5-HT may serve as a potential forensic biomarker in autopsied infants with SIDS with serotonergic defects.

Concepts: Death, Chromatography, High performance liquid chromatography, Infant mortality, Serotonin, Sudden infant death syndrome, Infancy, 5-HTTLPR


Maternal and paternal depression has been associated with infants' behavioral sleep problems. Behavioral sleep interventions, which alter parental cognitions about infant sleep, have improved infant sleep problems. This study reports relationships between parental depression, fatigue, sleep quality, and cognitions about infant sleep pre and post-intervention for a behavioral sleep problem.

Concepts: Psychology, Pregnancy, Infant, Breastfeeding, Maternal bond, Sleep deprivation, Problem, Infancy


Improvements in our understanding of the role of modifiable risk factors for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) mean that previous reassurance to parents that these deaths were unpreventable may no longer be appropriate. This study aimed to learn of bereaved parents' and healthcare professionals' experiences of understanding causes of death following detailed sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) investigations. The research questions were: How do bereaved parents understand the cause of death and risk factors identified during detailed investigation following a sudden unexpected infant death? What is the association between bereaved parents' mental health and this understanding? What are healthcare professionals' experiences of sharing such information with families?

Concepts: Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, Pediatrics, Knowledge, Pacifier, Causes of death, Sudden infant death syndrome, Infancy