Researchers at Washington University have discovered a protein that can help limit the extent of brain injury that occurs when a baby is deprived of oxygen during delivery. Such deprivation of oxygen can cause a condition called cerebral palsy. The researchers found that the protective protein called Nmnat1 can help reduce critical brain damage and limit the extent of cerebral palsy.
Arizona medical malpractice lawyers find a number of causes for oxygen deprivation in a baby during the delivery process. There may be complications from a spike in maternal blood pressure, and this typically happens because doctors fail to monitor maternal health. Doctors may fail to perform an emergency cesarean section, leading to the baby being forced through the birth canal. In such cases, there is a disruption in the supply of oxygen to the baby, causing brain damage with possibly long-term consequences. One of these long-term consequences is cerebral palsy, a condition that affects an individual’s mobility, movement and mental development.
The researchers found that Nmnat1 helps protect brain cells from damage, probably by blocking the effects of the neurotransmitter glutamate, which kills off healthy brain cells. The researchers examined the effects of Nmnat1 on mice that that had suffered oxygen and blood flow deprivation. They found that mice that had genetically-engineered higher levels of Nmnat1 had much lower brain damage to critical areas of the brain that are responsible for causing cerebral palsy, than the mice that did not.
Follow-up studies further found that the mice with the higher levels of Nmnat1 suffered minimal or no brain damage at all. Researchers are now concluding that introducing Nmnat1 doses could help prevent the loss of brain cells in a baby suffering from oxygen deprivation, and thereby block or limit cerebral palsy.