Turmeric Component Can Prevent Lung Damage in Premature Babies

Parent Herald July 03, 10:44 am

A component found in turmeric can prevent lung damage in premature babies, a new study says.

Babies born before 37 weeks of gestational age are considered to be premature babies. Though most of the internal systems of an unborn baby develop by 32 weeks, according to health experts, lungs remain immature at eight month of pregnancy and take more time to fully develop.

So when babies are born before completing their gestational age, their lungs are not  fully developed. They require ventilation support and oxygen therapy. However, the therapies have long been found to increase the risk of lung damage, a condition known as bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD).  The condition is often accompanied by fluid in lungs and scarring. According to the American Lung Association, between 5,000 and 10,000 babies are affected with BPD every year. 

The study reported in the American Journal of Physiology, Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, found a component in turmeric, known as curcumin, effective in protecting babies against the risk of the lung damage (BPD) and hyperoxia- a condition that is caused by excess oxygen in the body.  Premature babies often suffer from this condition nearly 21 days after birth.  

The findings are based on the experiments conducted by a team of researchers from Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed), with the help of disease models.

"This is the first study to find long-term benefits of using curcumin to protect lung function in premature infants," Virender K. Rehan, author of the study, said in a news release. "Curcumin is known to have potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, making it a promising therapy for premature infants who require oxygen therapy after birth."

Preterm birth is the leading cause of newborn deaths and the second leading cause of death among children aged below 5 in the world. In the U.S. more than half a million babies are born prematurely. Apart from BPD, premature babies are affected by a series of health problems, including apnea; respiratory distress syndrome; jaundice; anemia; problems related to intestines (Necrotizing enterocolitis -NEC) and infections, particularly to lungs, blood, brain and spinal cord.

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