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U of M Study Provides Insight on Common Lung Defect in Newborns

January 12, 2015 7:49 AM | News

Newborn Baby

(Pediatrician holding a newborn baby image via Shutterstock)

WINNIPEG — A new study from researchers at the University of Manitoba is hoping to guide insights into a common lung defect in newborns.

One in 2,500 newborns is affected by a disease called congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), making it almost as common as cystic fibrosis. CDH is attributed to abnormal lung development in children due to having a hole in their diaphragms. An ultrasound before birth can detect the condition, which doctors can then offer prenatal therapy using a balloon that forces the lungs to grow.

“We hoped to identify new gene regulators to better explain the mechanisms responsible for the abnormal lung development in congenital diaphragmatic hernia,” said Richard Keijzer of the Department of Surgery and one of the authors of the study.

“We have discovered that there are indeed certain microRNAs differently expressed in lungs from CDH babies. We have also found that a unique profile of those microRNAs can help to determine whether babies with very severe abnormal lung development would benefit from a prenatal treatment to force the lungs to grow.”

Abnormal lung development is responsible for a mortality of 20 per cent, making CDH the birth defect with the highest death rate. It is currently not known why and how the lungs in CDH babies develop abnormally.

The study is being published by the Annals of Surgery.