Study Reveals Potential Link Between Genetics and Brain Injuries in Preterm Infants


If you or your significant other has ever been pregnant, then you understand that the wait for 40 weeks to lapse can seem interminable at times. Any mother will tell you that those last few weeks especially can seem like years, as every expecting parent generally runs out of patience as the due date for delivery nears. Obviously, if you’ve experienced this powerful phenomenon, you’ve probably looked back on it and realized that it was nothing more than emotions such as anticipation and a bit of nerves creeping into your consciousness.

However, if you’ve given birth to a child before he or she was due to be delivered, you likely understand an entirely different type of anxiety, as you no doubt are aware of the risks that a child encounters when he or she is born early. These risks appear to be particularly acute if a child is born before 37 weeks of gestation, as it’s generally believed at this point that the brain is mostly finished with its development. If that development occurs outside the womb, it can lead to problems with the brain that can lead to harmful consequences down the road.

As such, children who are born preterm are generally at greater risk for suffering brain injuries either during birth or immediately thereafter than children who are carried to the full term. Brain injuries in people this young are obviously devastating and they can ultimately lead to diagnoses of cerebral palsy, autism and perhaps developmental delays that can be difficult to overcome even if those conditions are not permanent.

The question that sits before many medical professionals is why preterm children tend to face higher risks of brain injuries than infants who are delivered at 40 weeks. That was a question that researchers from the University of Utah School of Medicine set out to answer with a recent study, and through their work of analyzing children who had already been involved in a study relating to the use of magnesium sulfate before birth they may have uncovered some answers.

The researchers found that a variant in the inflammation gene, interleukin 6, was associated with developmental problems in females but not in males. This gene could not only heighten the risk of brain injuries in infants, but also exacerbate those injuries if they’re inflicted. While the research showed a difference between the genders, those performing the study cautioned that more data will be needed before a definitive line of demarcation can be drawn between boys and girls.

What this study should tell you if you’ve given birth to a preterm child or if you face that possibility is that your doctor should have or should work to prevent a preterm birth by taking every responsible step available. Failure to do so could lead to terrible consequences. If you’ve already suffered through this experience, you need to contact the New York medical malpractice lawyers at The Fitzgerald Law Firm today to schedule a free initial consultation.