Newborns who were not breathing at birth and had to be resuscitated are likely to have a low IQ by the age of eight, new research suggests.
The study, by Bristol's Southmead Hospital, has been published in the Lancet
To reach the conclusion, scientists compared babies who were resuscitated at birth with those who had a problem-free delivery.
The study was based on children who were part in a long-term research project known as the Children of the 90s study. The researchers defined a low IQ as being less than 80, reports The BBC.
The research team found that children who were resuscitated, but required no further treatment, had a 65 percent increased risk of a low IQ compared with those who were not. The risk of a low IQ for children who were resuscitated and also required further treatment for signs of brain damage, known as encephalopathy, was six times higher than babies delivered without any problem.
Damage caused during labour is due to the brain being starved of oxygen, a phenomenon known as hypoxia.
Writing in the prestigious journal, the researchers said: "Infants who needed resuscitation, even if they did not develop encephalopathy in the neonatal period, had a substantially increased risk of a low full-scale IQ score.
"The data suggest that mild perinatal physiological compromise might be sufficient to cause subtle neuronal or synaptic (nerve cell junction) damage, and thereby affect cognition in childhood and potentially in adulthood."