Researchers at Johns Hopkins have dispelled the widespread belief among obstetricians that, in premature infants, brain injury results from a lack of oxygen, also called hypoxia, when, in fact, infection plays a larger role.
"Infection plays a much larger role than lack of oxygen in brain injury among premature infants," said high-risk obstetrician Ernest Graham, M.D., an assistant professor at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and lead author of the study, presented at the 24th annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine and set for publication in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology online Oct. 25. "To reduce the risk of brain injury in the premature neonate, physicians may have to pay more attention to infections that occur around the time of birth."
The injury to the premature brain white matter, known as periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), is a condition in which small, cyst-like regions of brain tissue die. PVL is the most common form of brain injury in premature infants and results in cerebral palsy in 60 percent to 100 percent of those who live to adulthood. It can only be identified by ultrasound, MRI scan or CT scan of the infant’s brain.
David March | EurekAlert!
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