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Guide To The Causes And Risk Factors Of Periventricular Leukomalacia

Periventricular leukomalacia is a type of injury incurred to the brain of infants born prematurely or at a low weight. Periventricular leukomalacia occurs when the delicate brain tissues that sit around the ventricles die due to one or more acute mechanisms. This delicate brain tissue is called white matter, and white matter is the tissue responsible for the production of myelin, a fatty substance that covers and protects the nerve axons, allowing impulses to travel from one nerve to the next in a smooth manner. 

Individuals affected by periventricular leukomalacia have nerves that cannot conduct electrical signals properly because they are unprotected and uninsulated. This malfunction causes problems with the nervous system and healthy development. There are several possible causes and risk factors of periventricular leukomalacia. 

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Hypoxia Or Ischemia

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A periventricular leukomalacia patient may have experienced hypoxia and ischemia. Brain ischemia refers to a condition where there is not enough blood flowing to the brain to give the brain tissues an adequate amount of oxygen. Hypoxia of the brain is a condition where there is not enough oxygen reaching the tissues in the brain. Ischemia always causes hypoxia in the affected tissues, but hypoxia of the tissues can be caused by mechanisms other than ischemia. 

Any mechanism that causes an infant to have reduced blood flow to the brain can cause periventricular leukomalacia, such as having the umbilical cord around the neck during birth, pressure compression to the blood vessels supplying the infant's brain, and blood clots lodged in the vessels supplying the infant's brain with blood. Any mechanism that causes an infant to have poor oxygen saturation in the blood flowing to their brain can cause the injury of periventricular leukomalacia, such as maternal anemia, underdeveloped lungs, neonatal congenital heart disease, neonatal cardiovascular collapse, shoulder dystocia, and placental insufficiency.

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