Antioxidants May Prevent Brain Injuries in Unborn Children

Illinois brain injuries caused via developmental problems in the womb or via a birth injury often have lifelong consequences for the children involved. Cerebral palsy is perhaps the most well-known brain injury among infants with thousands of sufferers throughout our area. Our Illinois cerebral palsy lawyer knows it goes without saying that as many resources as possible should be targeted at ways to prevent these harms from ever occurring in the first place.

Fortunately, many leading medical minds are working on some of these problems. Every day they get a little closer to ways that can prevent these brain injuries in the unborn. For example, researchers in Australia have recently completed a new trial that may save the unborn from developing these brain injuries that caused cerebral palsy. As reported this week in the Canberra Times, experts at the Monash Medical Center are beginning the world’s first trial involving the use of antioxidants to treat pregnant woman whose children are not developing normally. Doctors suggest that the goal of the trial is to prevent the children from suffering brain damage while in the womb.

In particular, the trial targeted the roughly one in twenty women whose placentas are not providing sufficient oxygen and nutrients for the developing child. This problem leads to growth restrictions in the baby’s development. Experts explain that this is a common cause of brain injuries in development that cause cerebral palsy. Scientists have found that this problem is caused by oxidative stress which leads to the release of free radicals-excess chemicals that damage normal tissue.

To correct this problem, doctors want to try giving women antioxidant melatonin to correct the bodily stress. In trials on lamb fetuses, the antioxidant has been able to prevent the development of brain injuries. Now doctors are beginning trials to treat pregnant women with the hope that similar results will be seen. If those results are mirrored in humans, obstetrics experts explain that it will be a major breakthrough in protecting babies from brain injuries. Summarizing the breakthrough, one obstetrician explained that “Pregnancy is a black box-we are watching, but until now there has been nothing we can do to intervene.” This treatment option breaks through that black box and may allow prevention of these brain injuries which develop before birth while the child is in the womb.

While the human trial has not yet begun, one woman’s story is already making doctors think optimistically about the prospects. The woman had already had three miscarriages when she became pregnant again. As a result of the previous problems, doctors were monitoring her pregnancy closely. When she learned that antioxidants might help the baby, the woman found an over-the-counter antioxidant medication and began taking it. Amazingly, the child condition actually improved while in the womb after the pills were taken. The child was able to survive to the point of viability. He is now a five-month old with a only few minor health problems. The woman hopes that this new trial will confirm the beneficially role of antioxidants and allow more children to be born healthy that otherwise might be lost.

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