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A recent study out of the University of California San Francisco, published in the prestigious medical journal Pediatrics, finds that a drug commonly used to treat anemia may also be useful for treatment in babies that suffer from certain birth injuries. The study points to two specific benefits:

  • The drug used is an established medication. The drug, erythropoietin (EPO), has been used to treat anemia for thirty years. This is not a new drug that would require development and production but one that is already readily available. Medical professionals also note that at approximately $60 per infusion, the drug is relatively inexpensive.
  • If the study results are supported, use of the drug could help an end to untold suffering. Results from this study suggest that use of this medication was linked to a decreased risk of cerebral palsy and other severe or moderate brain injuries among in infants suffering from oxygen deprivation at birth. The brains of the infants receiving the drug were more likely to heal, increasing the likelihood that the newborn would avoid long term injury.

These results are promising.

More on the study: Data and lessons for those with loved ones who suffered birth injury

The infants used in the study suffered from hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), which results in a drop in oxygen and blood flow to the brain. One group of babies in the study received standard treatment, which involves the use of hypothermia (cooling the body to speed heeling) and a placebo. The second group also received the standard hypothermia treatment along with injections of the anemia medication EPO.

There were 26 infants in the group that received the placebo and 24 in the group that received EPO. The researchers report that the group that received EPO had only one infant with severe or moderate brain injuries while the group that only used the placebo had 11 children with these injuries.

These findings highlight the importance of medical professionals staying current with advances in their field. Those who are negligent and do not practice medicine within the accepted standard of their field can place their patients at risk of injury. If a failure to practice medicine at the accepted standard results in injury, victims can hold these professionals accountable for their actions through a medical malpractice suit.

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