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Women's Health Channel
Reported May 2, 2008

Birth Control for Brain Injuries?

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A common ingredient in birth control pills may do more than prevent pregnancy … it could also help prevent brain damage after a head injury.

Traumatic brain injuries are a major cause of death and disability. Preventing brain cell death after an injury is crucial to survival and recovery. Several ‘neuroprotective drugs’ have shown promise in preventing nerve cell death in animal models of traumatic brain injury, but now researchers have discovered a hormone -- progesterone -- may produce the same results. Progesterone is a female hormone commonly used in oral contraceptive pills.

Researchers at Hangzhou Normal University and Zhejiang University in China studied 159 patients with acute traumatic brain injury, half of which were given progesterone and the other half placebo pills, for five days after their injury.

At both three and six months after treatment, significantly more patients who were given progesterone had favorable outcomes compared to patients given the placebo pills. Progesterone was also linked to increased survival at six months.

“Our results provide information important for further multicenter clinical trials on progesterone as a promising neuroprotective drug,” lead author of the study Dr. Giomin Xiao, was quoted as saying.

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SOURCE: Critical Care, 2008;12:R61

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