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Language Skills Improve When Parents Talk to Their Preemies

Health & Family

Language and conversation is our lifeblood. And that’s even true, scientists say, if one of the “speakers” may not have fully developed language skills.

Led by Dr. Betty Vohr, a professor of pediatrics at Brown University, researchers found that premature babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) benefited when their mothers spoke to them in attempts to engage them in conversation, compared to if their mothers simply stroked them or if the babies were primarily around nurses who talked about or around them but didn’t address the babies directly.

MORE:Preemies Face Higher Risk of Death in Early Adulthood

Vohr and her team studied 36 preterm infants and made 16-hour recordings when they were 32 weeks and 36 weeks old. The 32-week-old babies were born eight weeks before their mother’s due date, and the 36-week-old infants were delivered four weeks shy of their expected birth date. When the infants…

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