Infection and inflammation is a significant risk factor for newborn brain injury (Birth Asphyxia) – ABAaNA Study

Scientists at the Medical Research Council/ Uganda Virus Research Institute have released study findings indicating that infection and inflammation is a significant risk factor for new-born brain injury.

Speaking at an Open day for study participants and their parents at Mulago Hospital Guest- House grounds on 27th March, 2015, the Principle Investigator, Dr. Cally Tann said, “the 13 months’ study, code named ‘The ABAaNA study (meaning ‘children's study’ in the local Ugandan language) is the largest and most comprehensive research study to date to examine the causes of, and outcomes from, new-born brain injury in sub-Saharan Africa. As a result, it is uniquely placed to provide vital new information on risk factors for, and outcomes from, newborn brain injury. The ultimate aim being to find ways to prevent newborn death and disability, and improve the quality of life of affected children and their families”.

Conducted at Uganda’s Mulago National Referral Hospital, the study recruited 210 term babies with new-born brain injury and 409 unaffected babies as a comparison group. Blood and placental samples were used to look for evidence of infection. The study indicated that one quarter of the surviving affected babies showed early signs of cerebral palsy at one year of age, and a quarter of these had malnutrition as a result of related feeding problems.

In response to the findings, the MRC/UVRI with the support of the various development partners will start a project to develop an early intervention programme for infant survivors of birth asphyxia in Uganda. The project slated to commence in 2015 will aim to improve the health, participation and quality of life of affected children and their families.

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