It has been known for some time that female infants appear less vulnerable to a specific birth injury, but scientists did not know why. The injury occurs if complications arise during birth that deprives infant brains of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood. This deprivation can lead to hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, which causes many long-term neurological conditions including cerebral palsy and learning disabilities. It may also cause death in some cases.
As mentioned above, scientists did not know what caused this disparity between infant females and infant males for a long time, but results from a recent study have shed light on the reason. The study by scientists with a Wisconsin university have learned that the brains of female mice contain a higher level of a protein that helps protect their brains from HIE. This protein has been identified as ERa, or “oestrogen receptor a.”
Reportedly, ERa works by activating a succession of protective effects inside the brains of female mice if reduced blood flow and oxygen deprivation occurs. Under normal birth conditions, both male and female brains contain about the same levels of ERa. It is only when HIE occurs that the female brain experiences a surge in the amount of the substance. Scientists hope this new revelation can lead to a better understanding of how and why infant female brains are better equipped to fight against HIE damage.
Hopefully, scientists can continue important research like this to prevent infant brain and birth injuries. Parents must never forget that sometimes mistakes during the birthing process and delivery can result in complications that lead to oxygen deprivation and reduced blood flow. If you live in North Carolina and your infant suffered injuries at birth, a local attorney can offer assistance with your case.
Source: Deccan Chronicle, “Female infants less vulnerable to brain injury: study,” Feb. 05, 2016