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  • Brave New World: Will Neonatologists Venture Beyond The Animal Lab To Use Resveratrol To Rescue Newborn Infants From Brain Damage?

    December 14, 2016: by Bill Sardi

    Researchers report the administration of resveratrol to newborn rodents whose brains were experimentally deprived of oxygen after birth reduced tissue damage 7-days after the event and protected the newborn brain. [Oncotarget Nov 2, 2016]

    Researchers say: “The immature brain is unable to repair itself from this injury; however, resveratrol may preserve the structure and morphology (physical makeup) of injured tissues and prevent dysfunction in the affected brain cells (neurons)” even 7-days after the event.

    Last year researchers went even further, administering resveratrol to laboratory animals just prior to or following experimental deprivation of oxygenated blood to the brain of newborn rodents.  Resveratrol pre-treatment not only protected against brain damage but also resulted in long-lasting behavioral effects that persisted into adulthood. [PLoS One Nov 6, 2015]

    Maternal resveratrol treatment during pregnancy improves adverse events to the fetus in the event of ischemia (oxygen deprivation).  [Life Sciences June 28, 2002]  So the science of resveratrol and infant oxygen deprivation dates back over a decade.

    Brain tissue loss comparison


    A: Normal brain
    B: Brain with damage to the hippocampus
    C. Brain treated with resveratrol 10 minutes prior to oxygen deprivation
    D. Brain treated with resveratrol immediately after oxygen deprivation showing damage

    Control = normal oxygenation of the brain
    HI= hypoxia/ischemia (oxygen deprivation)
    RVT = resveratrol prior to oxygen deprivation
    RVT after = resveratrol immediately after oxygen deprivation

    A devastating event among newborns is brain/oxygen-blood deprivation, called asphyxia, which is a main cause of infant mortality.  Birth asphyxia causes 840,000 or 23% of all neonatal deaths worldwide.  [Medscape Dec 11, 2016]  The oxygen-deprived brain of a newborn infant results in dire symptoms (lethargy, seizures, poor reflexes).  Only a small percentage of infants with severe injury survive without any noticeable handicap.  Many don’t survive at all.

    Resultant damage to the infant brain is called neonatal encephalopathy or infant hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, in case concerned individuals wish to search for further information under this topic.

    The incidence of neonatal encephalopathy is between 2 and 9 per 1000 births. [UpToDate]

    Another source says 20 out of 1000 full-term births are affected by this condition and it occurs in 60% of all premature live births. [Birth Injury Guide]

    There are many causes of brain damage to newborns.  Most of these causal factors such as severe prematurity, abnormal fetal position, low maternal blood pressure, excessive placental bleeding, maternal drug or alcohol use, cannot be averted in the rush to deliver a baby.

    Treatment consists of assistive ventilation and cooling the baby’s brain, which have a limited effect.  [Birth Injury Guide]

    Infants who survive are subject to learning disabilities, gross motor dysfunction, vision and hearing loss, epilepsy, cerebral palsy and other disabilities.  [Pediatrics & Child Health May 2006]

    The question arises, just when will resveratrol venture to use resveratrol in humans?  It appears resveratrol given prior to birth would be safe and have a strong chance of being efficacious especially in high-risk births.  © 2016 Bill Sardi

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