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Viagra could help babies deprived of oxygen during childbirth

MUHC researcher leads innovative experimental treatment at the Montreal Children's Hospital

Aug 23, 2017

"We had nothing to lose, but so much to gain," were the first thoughts of Aleyda Jimenez and Michel Lévesque when they decided to let their son Antoine, then a day old, participate in a new clinical trial led by Dr. Pia Wintermark, a pediatrician and neonatologist at the Montreal Children's Hospital of the McGill University Health Centre (MCH-MUHC). Dr. Wintermark and her team at the MUHC Research Institute are studying how the popular blue pill Viagra, seems to repair the brain of newborn babies who have suffered oxygen deprivation at childbirth.

Despite all the precautions taken, there are still complications around the time of childbirth and everything does not always go as planned. This is what happened when Aleyda stopped feeling her baby move for more than 24 hours. "Everything went very well until this incident. Antoine was deprived of oxygen at birth and had to be resuscitated, which had serious repercussions on his health, including his heart and lungs," she explains.

Neonatal asphyxia happens when the baby does not receive enough oxygen at birth. It occurs in four births out of 1,000. Injuries to the brain can lead to learning and developmental difficulties, cerebral palsy and can sometimes be fatal. Read more