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Neonatal hypoglycemia is characterized by low blood glucose level in the first days after birth. It has been associated with brain injury affecting preferentially cerebral areas in charge of vision. One third of neonates born prematurely have neonatal hypoglycemia. Preterm infants are also at higher risk for visual and intellectual difficulties as well as brain abnormalities compared to babies born at term. Yet, the impact of neonatal hypoglycemia on the development of babies born prematurely and on their vulnerable brain has not been specifically studied.

The main goal of this study is to characterize the relationship between neonatal hypoglycemia and brain, visual and intellectual development in preemies. We will use three methodologies: the electroencephalogram (EEG); the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); and behavioral assessments. We will recruit 120 neonates born preterm between 27 and less than 35 weeks of gestation, as well as full-term born infants. Participants will be followed for 3 years with follow-up at 0, 3, 12, 24 and 36 months of age.

This study will provide a better understanding of the role of neonatal hypoglycemia on cerebral, visual and intellectual development in preemies. It will improve our ability to identify preterm infants at-risk of developmental delay and provide them with better individualized patient care.

This study is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).


The last few months of pregnancy are particularly important for a child’s brain development. Children born prematurely are at higher risk of developing a variety of neurodevelopmental disorders than children born at term, such as language delays or attention difficulties. 

The objective of this study is to investigate the development of auditory attention and language discrimination skills in children born prematurely or at term using electrophysiology (EEG) and auditory evoked potentials (AEPs). We examine and compare pre-attentional verbal and non-verbal discrimination processes using AEPs and the Mismatch Negativity (MMN) component in children born between 21 and 34 weeks of gestation, and children born at term at 3-, 12-, and 36-month-old.

Given the magnitude of the potential impact of prematurity on the development of these children, this study aims to identify, from the first year of the child’s life, the electrophysiological markers predictive of language and cognitive development in preterm born children. The results could allow for early screening and intervention of neurodevelopmental impairments.

Early electrophysiological markers of atypical language processing in prematurely born infants