Blood Testing for Brain Damage

A recent article published in Imperial College London News discusses the ongoing research and development of a blood test prototype for brain damage in newborns who experienced oxygen deprivation during birth. Imperial College London, in collaboration with groups in India, Italy, and America conducted their research in Indian hospitals and published the findings in Scientific Reports.

Oxygen deprivation can occur for a variety of reasons including a lack of oxygen in the mother’s blood, infection, umbilical cord issues, birth canal delays, placental separation, and delivery trauma. Oxygen deprivation can lead to brain damage, which develops over hours to months after birth. Depending on what part of the brain is affected, this can result in a number of different neurological including cerebral palsy, erb’s palsy, epilepsy, and others.

The researchers conducted their preliminary study using 45 babies that experienced oxygen deprivation at birth. The babies had their blood taken within six hours of birth, and then again 18 months later. It was sequenced to examine any differences in gene expression between the babies who had developed neurodisabilities and those who did not.

In total, researches found 855 genes that were expressed differently between the two groups, two of which were significantly different. Lead author Dr. Paolo Montaldo hopes that examining these two genes could help scientists better understand the causes of neurodisabilities following oxygen deprivation and subsequently, how to disrupt them. Identifying babies most at risk for developing a neurological condition would also allow for targeted early interventions for improved outcomes. The team of researchers plans to expand their blood testing study to a larger number of babies to gather more insight.

The potential benefits of early diagnosis are endless. However, even with a confirmed diagnosis and early intervention, the effects of brain damage due to oxygen deprivation can cause serious lifelong neurological, developmental, physical, behavioral, and psychological issues. The attorneys at Abramson, Brown & Dugan are committed to helping those who have been negatively impacted by physician error. All of our attorneys are experienced in the field of medical malpractice; Kevin Dugan has a particular concentration in birth injury cases, including medical errors in labor and delivery resulting in newborn brain injury and cerebral palsy. If you are seeking support or would like to discuss a potential case, contact us today.