Can pomegranate juice protect the infant brain?

Posted on August 28, 2019

Mothers undergo steps to protect the new-born’s brain, mitigating risk before birth is critical. Some new-borns, such as those with intrauterine growth restriction, are at heightened risk. Intervening before birth to aid in protecting the new born brain may prevent the often devasting effects of brain injury.

This study provides preliminary evidence suggesting potential protective effects for new-borns exposed to pomegranate juice while in utero. These findings warrant continued investigation into the potential neuroprotective effects of polyphenols in at-risk new-borns, such as those with hypoxic-ischemic injury.

In cases of IUGR, a baby in the womb measuring small for its gestational age, often due to issues with the placenta, which brings oxygen and nutrients to the growing foetus. One out of 10 babies are considered to have IUGR. The process of birth itself can decrease blood flow or oxygen to the baby, including to the baby’s brain. If this is very severe, it can result in a condition known as hypoxic-ischemic injury, which contributes to almost one-quarter of newborn deaths worldwide.
Polyphenols, which include tannic acid and ellagitannins, are part of a class of antioxidants found in many foods and beverages, including nuts, berries, red wine and teas. Pomegranate juice is a particularly rich source of these molecules. Polyphenols are known to cross the blood-brain barrier, and studies in animal models have demonstrated protective effects against neurodegenerative diseases.

A group of women were randomized to receive 8 ounces of pomegranate juice daily or a taste/calorie matched placebo that was polyphenol free. Women drank the juice daily from enrollment until delivery. The team measured several aspects of brain development and injury, including infant brain macrostructure, microstructural organization and functional connectivity.

While the team did not observe differences in brain macrostructure, they did find regional differences in white matter microstructure and functional connectivity. Measures tell us how the brain is developing functionally – seeing improvement in cabling network and brain development measured by synchronous blood flow and visual development of the brain.

Category(s):Child Development

Source material from Science Daily

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