Hormone 'protects brains of premature babies'

Brain scans show EPO - used illegally by athletes to boost performance - may help infants when given after birth.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, involved almost 500 babies born between 26 and 31 weeks in Switzerland.

The researchers are calling for wider trials of the hormone, which is already given to some babies to treat anaemia.

Erythropoietin is a hormone that stimulates production of red blood cells.

Among Patients with TBI, Maintaining Higher Hemoglobin Concentration or Receiving Hormone EPO Does Not Improve Neurological Outcomes

In patients with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), neither the administration of the hormone erythropoietin (EPO) or maintaining a higher hemoglobin concentration through blood transfusion resulted in improved neurological outcome at 6 months. Transfusing at higher hemoglobin concentrations was associated with a higher risk of adverse events. Patients with severe traumatic brain injury commonly develop anemia. For patients with neurological injury, anemia is a potential cause of secondary injury, which may worsen neurological outcomes. Treatment of anemia may include transfusions of packed red blood cells or administration of erythropoietin. There is limited information about the effect of erythropoietin or a high hemoglobin transfusion threshold (if the hemoglobin concentration drops below a certain level, a transfusion is performed) after a TBI, according to background information in the article.