Breast Milk Fat: A Potential Cure and Treatment for Cerebral Palsy


A study suggests that a recently discovered fat in breast milk may reduce the risk of cerebral palsy in premature neonates. Cerebral palsy is the most prevalent motor disorder in children, causing debilitating, lifelong effects such as difficulty walking, speaking, and executing fundamental motor tasks. Researchers at Duke University discovered that the lipid molecule aids in the production of new cells that comprise white matter, a network of nerve fibers that connects various regions of the brain. 

 Dr. Eric Benner, the study’s author and a pediatrician at Duke University Medical Center, remarked, ‘Developing therapies for children – especially those who are so medically vulnerable – is extremely challenging due to justified safety concerns.’The fact that this molecule has already been identified in breast milk, which is safe for premature infants, is extremely encouraging. The condition is intractable, but it is frequently treated with physical therapies, oral medications, Botox, and muscle relaxants. 20-aHydroxycholesterol was tested on newborn mice and will be administered to children in a forthcoming clinical trial. Numerous infants participating in the study have gastrointestinal issues that prevent them from consuming breast milk normally.

The molecule functions by penetrating the brain and binding to stem cells, cells that differentiate into other cell types, spanning from muscle cells to brain cells. It then stimulates these stem cells to generate oligodendrocytes, which are responsible for producing white matter in the central nervous system. The newly produced white matter has been shown to prevent the neuronal damage that prevents children from moving and impairs other motor abilities, both of which are characteristics of cerebral palsy. 

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 Exploring the Symptoms, Complexities of Mobility, and Posture Disorders

Photo by: Jaren Wicklund via Fotolia

Cerebral palsy is a collection of disorders that affect a person’s mobility, equilibrium, and posture. It is typically caused by abnormal brain development or brain injury before birth. Symptoms typically manifest in infancy or early childhood. These include tense muscles, exaggerated reflexes, excessively rigid or flaccid muscle tone, loss of balance, tremors, favoring one side of the body, difficulty walking, speech delays, and learning disabilities. 

As children with cerebral palsy mature into adults, their risk of developing long-term health issues such as heart disease, lung disease, joint deformities, growth retardation, melancholy, and anxiety increases. Dr. Benner stated that while the study is promising, additional study is required. The study, which was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was published in the journal Cell Stem Cell on Thursday.

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Source: Daily Mail

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