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Cure with progesterone: Female hormone may treat brain injuries

Studies say that giving progesterone soon after injury reduces brain swelling, prevents nerve death and improves functional outcomes.
NEW YORK: Treatment with progesterone, a well-known hormone that prepares the womb for pregnancy, safely reduces the risk of death and disability in people who suffer a traumatic brain injury, new research suggests.  
Animal studies have indicated that giving progesterone soon after injury reduces brain swelling, prevents nerve death and improves functional outcomes.
Lead researcher Dr David W Wright and colleagues note that progesterone's advantages over other potential treatments include its ability to quickly enter the brain, history of safe use, ease of administration, and low cost.  
Wright, from Emory University in Atlanta, and colleagues included in their study 100 adults with brain injury who reached the emergency department within 11 hours of injury. Patients were randomly assigned to receive an intravenous dose of progesterone or inactive "placebo".  
The death rate in the 30 days after injury was 13 per cent in the progesterone group compared with 30 per cent in the comparison group. This suggests that progesterone cut the risk of death by 57 per cent.  
Aside from some minor inflammation at the progesterone injection site, the side effects seen with the hormone were comparable to those observed with placebo. No serious side effects were seen in either group.  
Wright's team was able to contact 92 per cent of patients who survived 30 days. There was evidence that progesterone improved the recovery of patients with moderate brain injury. Patients with severe injury seemed to glean no benefit from the hormone.    
One-year outcomes will be reported later, the authors note. Still, the findings are encouraging and indicate the need for additional studies to investigate this topic further.

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