Molecular effects of curcumin, a substance in turmeric, could protect lung function in premature infants, according to research out of the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed).
“This is the first study to find long-term benefits of using curcumin to protect lung function in premature infants,” said Virender K. Rehan, MD, the LA BioMed lead researcher who authored the study. “Curcumin is known to have potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, making it a promising therapy for premature infants who require oxygen therapy after birth.”
Using disease models, investigators discovered that curcumin provided long-term protection against bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), a condition characterized by scarring and inflammation, and against hyperoxia, in which too much oxygen enters the body through the lungs, for up to 21 days after birth.
According to the authors, BPD is now the most common chronic lung disease of infancy in the U.S. With more premature babies surviving because of improvements in neonatal care, the cases of BPD have increased. A 2010 study found 67.3% of babies born at 22-25 weeks of gestation developed BPD, compared to 36.6% of infants born at 26-30 weeks of gestation.