We do not yet understand why some prematurely born babies go on to develop obesity and cardiovascular disease, while others suffer with osteopenia (weak bones) and failure to thrive, but what is emerging is that physical activity may work to limit these seemingly paradoxical outcomes. This research will contribute to clinical care as well as provide new insights into the fundamental biology of growth and development in premature babies.
In this study, premature babies born between 23 and 29 weeks, will be studied for one year. Participants (caregivers and their infant) will be asked to perform 15-30 minutes of intervention each day. Each pair will be randomly placed into one of two groups. Both groups will receive instruction on social interaction emphasizing activities such as teaching parents to recognize the baby's different states of arousal, cues, and self-regulatory behaviors, as well as encouraging language development. In one group, additional instruction on increased home-based exercises will be given. The two groups will be compared at the end of the study to see if there is any difference in body composition, certain growth mediators and caregiver infant interaction.