EPO Hormone Improves their Outcome
Seattle Children’s neonatologist Dr. Sandra Juul has been studying the effects of erythropoietin on preemies for 19 years — and she believes it is the key to combating the negative effects of extreme early births. Between 40 and 50 percent of extremely preterm infants — those born between 24 and 28 weeks of gestation — die or have moderate to severe neurodevelopmental impairment. According to Dr. Juul, these impairments can include cerebral palsy, mental impairment, blindness and deafness. Juul believes that erythropoietin (Epo), a hormone that is produced in the brain and kidneys and is essential for baby's survival, is the key to improving the lives of preterm babies because it has the ability to protect cells in the body. Based on her many years of research, she believes that Epo can be used to protect babies' brains from neurodevelopmental damage cause by extreme early delivery. Epo is currently used in a lower dose to treat or prevent anemia in preterm babies because it stimulates red blood cell production and can also reduce the need for blood transfusions. Dr. Juul and her team are currently in the process of enrolling preterm babies for her study, dubbed the PENUT Trial. The trial has 5 percent of its goal of 940 preterm infants, though enrollment just recently began.
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