In every minute a child is killed by the most dangerous disease malaria. There are drugs which can kill this parasite but the survivors can be left deaf, blind or with other learning disabilities.
This dangerous disease is cerebral malaria, but the mystery behind the disease taking so many lives was unsolved until the new research has made a breakthrough. The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Researches knew that brain swelling is something which is fatal but they could not confirm it with evidence and to solve this mystery researches knew that they need to look inside the brain and to do so M.R.I is needed. So they performed M.R.I scans on children suffering from critical cerebral malaria.
“We discovered that some children with cerebral malaria develop massively swollen brains and those are the children who die,” Dr. Terrie Taylor the senior author of the study and a professor at the Michigan State College of Osteopathic Medicine. She spends about half the year working in Malawi said.
Malaria causes body aches and bad fever. But in children this parasite gets stuck in the brain, and leads to coma and then death.
The brain becomes swollen and it is forced out to the bottom of the skull and compresses the brain stem that is the respiratory system, this will stop the breathing and the child dies within few seconds.
“Because we know now that the brain swelling is what causes death, we can work to find new treatments,” Taylor said. “The next step is to identify what’s causing the swelling and then develop treatments targeting those causes. It’s also possible that using ventilators to keep the children breathing until the swelling subsides might save lives, but ventilators are few and far between in Africa at the moment.”
Certain drugs like steroids and mannitol help with swelling but there is much to be studied, she said.