New Study May Reduce Brain Damage in Premature Babies

Premature births occur when babies are born prior to 37 weeks of gestation. The condition occurs for a number of different reasons, including mistakes or negligence by medical professionals. Mothers of premature babies deal with significant anxieties and fears. Along with the natural worries of any new mother, they are also faced with the possibility that their babies may not survive. This is because preemies are at an extreme risk due to the numerous complications that accompany premature births. Immature lungs are one of the most dangerous issues, often leading to traumatic brain injuries. According to a recent report by Fox News, researchers are working on a hormone to protect the brains of premature babies.

The American Pregnancy Association explains that the lungs of a fetus generally mature around the 36th week of gestation. When it is necessary to deliver a baby prior to this time, the physician may make the decision to inject the fetus with steroids that make the lungs develop at a faster rate. Conditions related to immature lungs include:

Respiratory Distress Syndrome – Immature lungs may not have a necessary agent to prevent their collapse. As a result, breathing may be irregular and difficult. Treatment for the condition may include the use of a ventilator or doses of the necessary agent.

Transient Tachypnea – This condition presents itself as shallow, but rapid breathing. The condition generally corrects itself after a few days. Intravenous feeding is sometimes necessary until the condition clears.

Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia – One treatment for immature lungs is the respirator. When babies are placed on these machines for extended amounts of time, this condition can develop due to the inability of the lungs to handle the constant pressure. Recovery is possible, but it may take some time.

Brain injuries – Immature lungs can lead to a loss of oxygen traveling through the bloodstream. Lack of oxygen to the brain can cause its incomplete development, which can lead to long term developmental issues.

The recent study is based around a hormone that is currently used to prevent the need for blood transfusions. The erythropoietin hormone (EPO) reportedly promotes the production of red blood cells. The study reportedly involved more than 400 newborns, born between 26 and 31 weeks of gestation. Physicians treated the infants with EPO and monitored the development of the brain using scans. Babies treated with the hormone demonstrated a 14% difference in injury to the brain when compared to the babies who did not receive it.

Researchers were quoted in the article as stating “This is the first time that the beneficial effect of the EPO hormone on the brains of premature babies has been shown.” Dr. Petra Huppi was the lead researcher on the study. “The real test of whether EPO protects the brains of those children will be when they are evaluated when they are older,” he stated.

If your baby suffers from a brain injury resulting from a premature birth, call an experienced attorney for a free consultation. The attorneys of Levin & Perconti will aggressively advocate for you to pursue any relief to which you are entitled.

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