The influence of growth retardation on perinatal hypoxic-ischemic brain damage

William Trescher, Ralph A.W. Lehman, Robert C. Vannucci

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24 Scopus citations


The effect of growth retardation on the extent of brain damage produced by hypoxia-ischemia was assessed in immature rats. Newborn rats were raised in litters of 6 or 14 pups from day 2 to 7. On postnatal day 7, those immature rats raised in litters of 14 weighed 18% less than animals raised in litters of 6 (P < 0.001). They then were subjected to cerebral hypoxia-ischemia by unilateral common carotid artery ligation followed by 3 h of exposure to 8% oxygen-92% nitrogen at 37°C. Upon return to their dams, all litters were culled to 6 pups. At 30 days of age, the animals underwent perfusion-fixation of their brains under pentobarbital anesthesia. Brain damage was assessed by measuring the length and width of each cerebral hemisphere. The extent of brain damage varied from no difference in the size of the two cerebral hemispheres to marked shrinkage of the hemisphere ipsilateral to the common carotid artery occlusion. The range of brain damage between the well-nourished and poorly nourished animals was comparable. Rank order of the extent of damage demonstrated significantly greater tissue injury in those animals well nourished prior to hypoxia-ischemia (Mann-Whitney U-test; P = 0.003). The results indicate that nutritional deprivation in the immature rat is associated with a decreased rather than increased susceptibility to brain damage arising from hypoxiaischemia. The findings of the investigation have relevance to the human infant suffering from intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-173
Number of pages9
JournalEarly Human Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1990

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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