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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 257139, 14 pages
Review Article

Neuroprotection in Preterm Infants

Marienhaus Klinikum St. Elisabeth, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 56564 Neuwied, Germany

Received 14 October 2014; Accepted 22 December 2014

Academic Editor: Stefan Rimbach

Copyright © 2015 R. Berger and S. Söder. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Preterm infants born before the 30th week of pregnancy are especially at risk of perinatal brain damage which is usually a result of cerebral ischemia or an ascending intrauterine infection. Prevention of preterm birth and early intervention given signs of imminent intrauterine infection can reduce the incidence of perinatal cerebral injury. It has been shown that administering magnesium intravenously to women at imminent risk of a preterm birth leads to a significant reduction in the likelihood of the infant developing cerebral palsy and motor skill dysfunction. It has also been demonstrated that delayed clamping of the umbilical cord after birth reduces the rate of brain hemorrhage among preterm infants by up to 50%. In addition, mesenchymal stem cells seem to have significant neuroprotective potential in animal experiments, as they increase the rate of regeneration of the damaged cerebral area. Clinical tests of these types of therapeutic intervention measures appear to be imminent. In the last trimester of pregnancy, the serum concentrations of estradiol and progesterone increase significantly. Preterm infants are removed abruptly from this estradiol and progesterone rich environment. It has been demonstrated in animal experiments that estradiol and progesterone protect the immature brain from hypoxic-ischemic lesions. However, this neuroprotective strategy has unfortunately not yet been subject to sufficient clinical investigation.