Touching Lives - September 2003
Brain damage in newborn babies
1 in 400 babies are born every year in the UK with some form of brain injury. Evidence suggests that infection, as well as lack of oxygen, may play a significant role in the brain damage that can occur during childbirth.
“There seems to be a relationship between infection, lack of oxygen, and a key molecule called ‘tumour necrosis factor’ in producing brain damage, but we’re really not sure yet what the relationship is,” says new Action Medical Researcher Giles Kendall.
“It’s a long ‘pathway’ where something affects something else which in turn affects something else.” If successful, future therapies could be developed to block this molecule in babies at risk, thus helping to reduce the occurrence of such brain injury.
“I get real satisfaction from the difference I make to individual lives in my day-to-day work as a paediatrician. But research has a more wide-ranging impact — potentially making a difference to every doctor’s clinical practice, and improving the lives of many more people.”