Skip to main content Skip to navigation
We care about your privacy. Read about your rights and how we protect your data. Get Details

Coronavirus Update:What patients and families need to know

Pediatric White Matter Injury

White matter injury (WMI), one of the most common consequences of premature birth, can produce long-term neurodevelopmental deficits. A study by researchers at Children’s National Hospital provides direct evidence that targeting specific receptors in white matter cells after brain injury promotes cellular and functional recovery.

In the United States, about 500,000 babies are born prematurely each year, with about 2% of them born at less than 32 weeks gestation. Up to 90% of these children survive, but they often suffer a number of abnormalities, including underdeveloped lungs. Underdeveloped lungs can lead to insufficient oxygen supply or hypoxia, which in turn contributes to WMI. No treatment currently exists to improve function in these infants once injury occurs.

During normal fetal and postnatal development, oligodendrocytes (myelin-producing cells in white matter) arise from oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs). In premature infants, hypoxia prevents OPCs from maturing properly, and the cells begin to die. Without sufficient myelin, the brain cannot process nerve impulses effectively, leading to significant delays in the development of sensorimotor skills and cognition.

Departments

Departments

Neonatal Neurology and Neonatal Neurocritical Care Program

The Neonatal Neurology and Neurocritical Care Program at Children’s National is the only one of its kind in the mid-Atlantic region and a leader in advancing neurologic care to some of our most critically ill newborns.

Invest in future cures for some of life's most devastating diseases

See other ways to give

Share your birthday with a child. Celebrate your life, and give a chance to someone who desperately wants to have as many as you.

Share your birthday with a child. Celebrate your life, and give a chance to someone who desperately wants to have as many as you. Make it happen

Mila's Story

Baby Mila in her stoller with a Happy New Year hat.

As soon as Mila was born at 35.5 gestational weeks, it was clear something was terribly wrong. Mila’s breathing didn’t sound right. Her mother waited to hear her newborn cry. Following diagnostic imaging and genetic testing, her newborn daughter's health concerns were revealed. 

Read More of Mila's Story