London, Mar 12 : Researchers from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia suggest that body building supplements used by athletes and body builders can protect against brain damage and death in newborns from oxygen starvation.
Monash researchers Now Zoe Ireland and David Walker conducted the study using a mice model and fed the pregnant spiny mice with food with 5 pct of the organic acid creatine.
Creatine is nitrogenous organic acid that occurs naturally and helps to supply energy to muscle and nerve cells and protect cells by providing energy during low oxygen levels. It is obtained from meat in the diet.
Bodybuilders and athletes often use creatine supplements to enhance muscle power.
The mice then starved of oxygen when she was about to give birth.
The findings revealed that the survival rate of the newborns whose mothers were provided with creatine was 95 pct while among those not provided with the supplement was 63 pct.
"The pups of supplemented mice also grew better, and this may be because their suckling reflex was less affected by brain damage," New Scientist quoted Ireland, as saying.
A new study on humans has also shown that these supplements can prevent nerve cells damage in patients with Huntingdon's disease or after a brain injury.
"I am a strong advocate for creatine supplementation during pregnancy. However, the creatine dose used in these experiments was very high, and although preliminary trials suggest that even premature babies can tolerate high doses well, we obviously need more research", said Theo Wallimann, a cell biologist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich.