Dopamine Seen As Link to Mental Illness for Brain-Injured Preemies

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[Source:  Psych Central]

Babies born prematurely who also sustain small brain injuries at the time of birth are more likely to have lower levels of dopamine as adults, according to a new study led by researchers at King’s College London.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with motivation, attention, concentration, and finding enjoyment in life. Low levels of this chemical may lead to serious mental health conditions such as depression and substance dependence.

Although one in 10 people are born prematurely, most experience no major complications around the time of birth. However, 15-20 percent of babies born before 32 weeks of pregnancy experience bleeding in the brain’s ventricles (fluid-filled spaces). If this bleeding is significant, it can cause long-term problems.

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