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Neonatal blood vessel failure clue

9th December 2009

The reason why an important foetal blood vessel sometimes does not close after a baby is born has been discovered by German researchers.

Baby Ward

Closure of the ductus arteriosus (DA) is involved in the first breath taken by babies.

It is a short blood vessel which connects the pulmonary artery to the aorta, and which allows the foetus's heart to begin beating while its lungs are still full of fluid in the womb.

If the DA fails to close, as in babies with defective platelet functioning, the baby develops high blood pressure in the lungs, and heart failure soon follows.

Such failures are more likely among premature babies whose birth weights are low.

The research team found that platelets in the blood are crucial in order for the DA to close during the first 10 days after the baby is born.

Prior to the German study, doctors were uncertain why the DA sometimes fails to close after a baby is born.

If the DA does not close properly, the baby will experience shortness of breath, dizziness, and possibly even irregular heart rhythms or heart failure.

By studying mice, the research team found that DA closure is stimulated by platelets that form a clot.

Mice with defective platelets had a much higher risk of the DA failing to close. As a result, the right ventricle of the mice's hearts grew larger than the left side.

Lead researcher Steffen Massberg said that his team's study might might lead to a change in current treatment procedures, especially where preterm newborns with low platelet counts were concerned.

He said he believed that platelet transfusions would be effective in babies whose platelet count is low.



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Article Information

Title: Neonatal blood vessel failure clue
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 13462
Date Added: 9th Dec 2009


BBC News

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