Mum of new baby shares experience of participation in pioneering CBD treatment for brain injury

  • Pioneering research at St Mary’s hospital is trialling cannabidiol (CBD) as a potential treatment for newborns with brain injury
  • Three babies born at St Mary’s enrolled in the CBD research 
  • Mothers participate in research to help others and improve outcomes of babies


Three babies born at St Mary’s hospital were enrolled in a pioneering Cannabidiol (CBD) research as a potential treatment for newborns with moderate or severe brain injury.

Zahra Murangwa, who was born in September, 2021, and had to be treated for a moderate brain injury. 

Zagra’s mum, Sibihwana, 34, said: “She had a normal pregnancy and then was induced at full-term due to a slightly elevated level of amniotic fluid, which is NHS standard of care if there is a risk to the baby.

“The birth was initially going well, but baby was facing back-to-back and couldn’t come out. Due to her position and the prolonged labour, the decision was made for an emergency caesarean.

“After delivery, they found she had oxygen loss, she couldn’t breathe properly on her own and she had a seizure.

“The clinical team did then manage to get her to breathe independently and she didn’t need to be intubated, but she had to be taken to NICU because of a suspected brain injury.

“It was really quite stressful. I didn’t get to hold her after she was born. I didn’t get to hold her for four or five days.

“The research team explained what the study would involve, and we consented as we had no problem with it. The same way that Zahra was helped by the cooling treatment which is still fairly new, we wanted to help others in future.

CBD, brain Injury,
Zarah Murangwa

“We weren’t sure whether it would help Zahra directly or whether she would receive the placebo, but we were just happy for our daughter to participate.

“It’s important to us, I wouldn’t want someone else to go through what we went through.

“We agreed that if in any way we can help someone else go through this easier or quicker or if we could help improve outcomes for other babies who have a similar injury, we’d be glad to take part in it.

“We’ve been privileged for her to have the cooling treatment, even though it was distressing, that’s one of the reasons her life was saved. We don’t have access to cutting-edge treatment like this back home and we feel really fortunate.

“Zahra doesn’t seem to have a severe form of the injury, God willing it will be a mild form and resolve completely on its own. She hasn’t had any seizures since just after she was born.

To us, she is perfect and everything we hoped she’d be

Saint Mary's Hospital, Brain Injury, Manchester
Dr Ajit Mahaveer, Research Lead and Consultant Neonatologist at Saint Mary’s Hospital, is the Principal Investigator of the study at MFT

Dr Ajit Mahaveer, consultant neonatologist at St Mary’s, said: “Pre-clinical research has shown that cannabidiol improved many of the damaging consequences of brain injury, as well as protective effects in both short-term and long-term administrations, which is why this clinical research has been undertaken.

“We are hugely grateful to all families who consented to their babies taking part in this study , during what we know is already a really difficult time for them . As their participation could help us improve future outcomes for babies born with Hypoxic-ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE).”