Science Questions

Sat, 8th Oct 2005

Part of the show Stem Cells, Brain Repair and Tricks of the Light


Molly in Hartford asked:

How do we get brain damage?


There are lots of ways in which the brain can be damaged. Sometimes the brain is born incorrectly, so it might have some of the special genes that make up the brain missing. This would make the brain damaged from the outset. Unfortunately, some babies are born with brain damage if their mum has difficulties during labour and the brain doesn't get enough oxygen. As I said earlier, if a baby is born very prematurely before their brain is properly formed, that can also lead to brain damage. There are lots of adult diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease which will damage and kill off the brain cells. Largely speaking, many of these brain cells cannot be repaired. Perhaps one of the most common forms of brain damage, and let's not forget that your brain also includes your spinal cord, are accidents. Unfortunately, many people who have bad accidents or falls will damage part of their back, spine or brain. Sadly, it's something that we can't cure at the moment.


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