of newborn babies may be improved by the development of a procedure that could prevent brain damage in oxygen-deprived newborns.
Scientists from the Sahlgrenska Academy, Sahlgrenska University Hospital and Zhengzhou University in China have discovered that administering a hormone that stimulates the formation of red blood cells could be effective.
The drug, erythropoietin, can be prescribed as late as two days after birth and comprises of a two-week course of injections.
Up until now, the only method of counteracting the effects of oxygen deprivation has been cooling, which must be done within six hours.
Klas Blomgren, professor of paediatrics at the Sahlgrenska Academy and specialist at Queen Silvia Children's Hospital, commented: "Only half as many of the children treated with erythropoietin had developed a severe neurological functional disability or had died of their injuries. Thus the hormone treatment improves the prognosis considerably in the longer perspective."
Oxygen deprivation at birth can be caused by the umbilical cord become twisted, compressed, or wrapped around the baby's neck or can be a result of the child's positioning in the birth canal.