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According to a new mouse study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, expectant mothers at risk of premature birth may want to consider drinking pomegranate juice to help defend against brain injuries from low oxygen and reduced blood flow.
Linked to premature birth and other irregularities during pregnancy, decreased blood flow and oxygen to the infant brain can cause a condition called hypoxia ischemia. Hypoxia ischemia causes brain injury in approximately two of every 1,000 full-term human births, as well as in a high percentage of babies born prior to 34 weeks of gestation. It can also lead to seizures, a degenerative condition called hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy and mobility impairments like cerebral palsy.
In the study, scientists temporarily lowered brain oxygen levels and brain blood flow in newborn mice whose mothers drank water mixed with pomegranate concentration. Compared to the mice whose mothers drank sugar water or other fluids, the newborn mice born to mothers given pomegranate concentrate benefited from a brain tissue loss reduction by 60 percent.
The study is promising because hypoxic ischemic brain injury in newborns is so difficult to treat, and currently there is very little doctors are able to do to stop or reverse its effects. Appearing in the June issue of Pediatric Research, the latest study might help give insight into better treating newborn brain injuries in the future. Senior author David Holtzman, M.D., says the results suggest the need for more studies of pomegranate juice’s effects in humans.
Holtzman does caution that the relative unpredictability of hypoxia ischemia in newborns would make it difficult to assemble a sufficiently large study group. While scientists understand some of the risk factors that increase risk of premature birth, which hypoxic ischemic brain damage is often associated to, if researchers are able to identify ways of treating everyone who is at risk preventatively, the incidence of the birth injuries could be drastically reduced.
The group is attempting to isolate the neuroprotective ingredients in pomegranate juice as a possible lead into focusing on the ingredients and testing their ability to reduce brain injury. In addition, the researchers plan on investigating the possibility that polyphenols from pomegranates and other natural foods can slow other neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s disease.
For more information on birth injuries, please contact us to confer with a cerebral palsy lawyer.