Discovery may bring special treatment for male babies

Mar 25, 2008

Hunter researchers have discovered that male babies born prematurely are more vulnerable to cardiovascular complications than female babies.

This finding may explain why male babies born prematurely are twice as likely to die as female babies in the first 72 hours of life. It could also lead to new ways of treating premature babies throughout the world.

Researchers from Hunter New England Health and the University of Newcastle, in collaboration with the Hunter Medical Research Institute’s Pregnancy and Reproduction Research Program, completed two studies, looking at babies born at 24 weeks to full term.

“This is the first time that the small blood vessels (microvasculature) have been extensively studied in a large group of premature babies,” said Dr Ian Wright, a Neonatologist at Hunter New England Health’s Kaleidoscope Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

“We discovered that changes in small blood vessels are linked with how sick the babies are after birth. Babies who had low blood pressure and were more ill were unable to control the blood flow in their small blood vessels. This was less of a problem as babies got older or if they were born more mature.

“We showed that there is a sex difference, with the girls able to regulate the small blood vessel flow, and boys unable to control it. Again, this difference resolved with time or was less of a problem in the more mature infants.

“The finding suggests that doctors may need to trial different approaches to treating baby boys, born prematurely, than baby girls. Earlier or more support for the circulation could be used

These findings were published in the journals Archives of Disease in Childhood, Fetal and Neonatal Edition and Pediatric Research. Infant mortality remains the most common cause of childhood death. Premature birth is the main cause of infant mortality and infant disability. In Australia, premature birth occurs in more than 17,000 pregnancies each year.

Source: Research Australia

Explore further: Key milestone for brown fat research with a ground-breaking MRI scan

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How a common fungus knows when to attack

Jul 24, 2012

The opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida albicans inconspicuously lives in our bodies until it senses that we are weak, when it quickly adapts to go on the offensive. The fungus, known for causing yeast and other minor ...

Recommended for you

Gate for bacterial toxins found

11 hours ago

Prof. Dr. Dr. Klaus Aktories and Dr. Panagiotis Papatheodorou from the Institute of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology of the University of Freiburg have discovered the receptor responsible ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Down's chromosome cause genome-wide disruption

The extra copy of Chromosome 21 that causes Down's syndrome throws a spanner into the workings of all the other chromosomes as well, said a study published Wednesday that surprised its authors.

Simplicity is key to co-operative robots

A way of making hundreds—or even thousands—of tiny robots cluster to carry out tasks without using any memory or processing power has been developed by engineers at the University of Sheffield, UK.

Progress in the fight against quantum dissipation

(Phys.org) —Scientists at Yale have confirmed a 50-year-old, previously untested theoretical prediction in physics and improved the energy storage time of a quantum switch by several orders of magnitude. ...