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New York readers may be interested to learn that an anemia drug might help prevent brain injuries after a baby is deprived of oxygen during its birth according to a study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

Researchers found that an anemia drug known as erythropoietin, or EPO, helps prevent brain damage and promote healing when a newborn baby suffers from hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, or HIE. This condition occurs when there is a reduction in cerebral blood flow and oxygen during birth, which causes damage to the nervous system. Even when treated, 40 percent of babies who experience HIE die or suffer some sort of disability. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration first approved EPO to treat anemia in 1989. The drug is a synthetic copy of a hormone that initiates the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow.

Currently, babies with HIE are treated through hypothermia, which involves cooling the body to 92.3 degrees. The UC study involved 50 16.5-hour-old babies who experienced HIE during their birth. Researchers treated 26 of the babies with hypothermia and a placebo while treating 24 with hypothermia and EPO. When the babies underwent MRI imaging five days later, 33.3 percent of those that received EPO showed no signs of brain injury compared to 11.5 percent of those who received a placebo. Meanwhile, 11 babies who received the placebo suffered moderate or severe brain damage, compared to only one baby who received EPO. One year later, the babies who received EPO showed better cognitive and motor skills than those who received the placebo.

When a baby suffers a birth injury, his or her parents might have grounds to file a medical malpractice claim against the doctor who oversaw the delivery. Parents may learn more about their legal rights by contacting an attorney.

Source: UPI, "Anemia drug may prevent brain damage in high-risk newborns," Stephen Feller, May 3, 2016

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