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Center for Neuroscience Research

Perinatal Hypoxia and Hyperoxia

Vascular system illustration

Preterm birth is a major pediatric public health concern. Today, as many as 1-2% of all live births are preterm; the survival rate of these infants is 85-90%, however as many as 30-50% of children that survive preterm birth have a high incidence of cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, and other cognitive handicaps. While some prematurely-born children progressively improve, a significant percentage still suffer major cognitive deficits, as many have repeated a grade by age 8, and more than 50% receive special help at school. Circulatory disturbances and oxygen deprivation are the two major causes of neurodevelopmental impairments in these children. Hypoxia, due to lung immaturity and respiratory disturbances, is an important mechanism underlying these devastating neurological complications at this critical time in development.