Aussie scientists determined to prevent brain injury in babies
SYDNEY. KAZINFORM Australian neonatal scientists have released the findings of several projects which they believe would provide invaluable insights into the causes and treatments of brain injuries in babies.
Suzanne Miller from the Hudson Institute of Medical Research said the team was devoted to preventing cerebral palsy, which is caused by damage to a baby's brain during pregnancy or around the time of birth, Xinhua reports.
«The term cerebral palsy describes a movement disorder, but it's important to remember that brain injury before or soon after birth is also the primary cause of more subtle cognitive, learning and behavioural dysfunctions,» Miller said in a statement released on Tuesday.
«A decade or so ago it was considered that curing or preventing cerebral palsy was not possible, but huge progress has been made with interventions for high-risk babies and I now believe that both the incidence and severity of cerebral palsy can be reduced,» she said.
Miller said the research included a report she published in the Journal of Pineal Research last year which revealed that melatonin could protect the newborn brain against a lack of oxygen.
«Melatonin has potent antioxidant properties to fight against damaging free radicals,» Miller said.
«This important study showed that melatonin significantly enhances newborn brain protection and lays the foundations for a treatment which has strong implications for reducing neonatal death and disability.»
In further work by PhD student Madeleine Smith, definitive answers were provided on the effectiveness of neural stem cells (NSCs) to treat neonatal brain injury, in a review published in Stem Cells Translational Medicine.
«Unlike other stem cell types, NSCs can integrate into damaged brain tissue, replacing dead neurons,» Miller said. «The team analysed all available lab-based pre-clinical studies and found that NSCs can reduce brain injury and improve physical function after injury occurs.»
Another recent initiative, undertaken by Tayla Penny and Courtney McDonald and published in Scientific Reports, showed that umbilical cord blood therapy could be equally effective in treating brain injuries in either males or females, despite the differences in their brains.
«There's a huge team effort at Hudson Institute to ensure that as many babies as possible get a healthy start to life, with every chance to realise their full potential,» Miller said.