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New procedure for the early diagnosis of dangerous lung diseases in babies


Bronchopulmonary dysplasia: better diagnosis for newborns

The dangerous lung disease called bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) affects babies. If newborns suffer from lung disease, they will likely continue to do so for the rest of their lives. Premature babies who are born with a weight of less than 1,500 grams are particularly at risk of developing bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Researchers have now developed a method that could enable an early and safe diagnosis of BDP in the future.

In their investigation, the scientists at the University of Munich found that a newly developed method for diagnosing bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) seems to work very effectively. The doctors published the results of their study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Premature babies are particularly at risk

If premature babies weigh less than 1,500 grams, they have an increased risk of developing bronchopulmonary dysplasia. The disease can also affect newborns with a normal body weight, explains Dr. Anne Hilgendorff, director of the Center for Comprehensive Developmental Care at Dr. from Haunersche Children's Hospital and the integrated social pediatric center at the clinic of the University of Munich.

The lungs develop late in newborns

In adolescent babies, the lungs are one of the latest developing organs. When babies are born prematurely, their lungs are not fully mature. This makes them susceptible to various complications, such as respiratory distress syndrome. Affected people also have an increased risk of developing chronic lung disease (such as BPD) later in life. The research team around the expert Dr. Anne Hilgendorff and the neonatologist Dr. Kai Martin Förster from the Perinatal Center at the LMU Clinic has now developed a procedure that enables early and effective diagnosis of bronchopulmonary dysplasia.

At birth, newborns lack fully developed alveoli

Babies lack already fully developed alveoli at birth. The newborns also lack the appropriate blood vessels to absorb oxygen from the alveoli. This creates an increased oxygen requirement and increased breathing effort. Artificial respiration can ensure the survival of the affected children. Long-term treatment with oxygen can also be used to combat acute shortness of breath. Such treatment is a double-edged sword, so to speak. "Artificial respiration and oxygenation contribute significantly to the development of the chronic complication, the BPD," explains Dr. Anne Hilgendorff in a press release from the Helmholtz Zentrum München.

BPD is not recognized in time in newborns

So far, there has been the problem that BPD is not reliably recognized in time so that effective treatment can be initiated shortly after birth. Affected children are only carefully monitored medically because of the possible risk.

Doctors examine blood samples from newborns

In their investigation, the scientists analyzed blood plasma samples taken from a total of 35 premature babies in the first week of life. These samples were then examined using an innovative high-tech method. The experts wanted to determine changes in all detectable proteins. The examination was then repeated on the 28th day of the newborn's life.

Three proteins seem to contribute to the development of the disease

To evaluate the data obtained, the scientists have developed a statistical model to determine which babies have an increased likelihood of developing bronchopulmonary dysplasia immediately after birth. Three white proteins were particularly noticeable in the analysis. These proteins are suspected of contributing to the development of the disease, says Dr. Anne Hilgendorff. By analyzing this system, the remodeling of the alveoli, the status of the vascular development and the inflammatory reaction can be determined.

More research is needed

Another study must now confirm the results found. If these results are positive again, a simple test urgently needs to be developed which only analyzes the three so-called marker proteins and not all 1129 proteins, the experts explain. Such a procedure would greatly facilitate early diagnosis in newborns. This could also make subsequent treatment more effective. The treatment options normally used for treatment are cortisone, vitamin A and the optimization of hydration and the ventilation situation. If the proteins are really a reliable form of risk allocation right after birth, further studies on new forms of treatment will also be possible. (as)

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