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Did Your Newborn Suffer Cerebral
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or During Labor and Delivery?

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Our Birth Brain Injury Resource Guide

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Brain Injury News and Research - Technology

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New Assessment Tool for Newborns with Asphyxia

Newborns who suffer from oxygen deprivation, known as asphyxia, during birth may suffer mild to severe brain damage. When an infant has a loss of oxygen, the doctor may perform several tests to help determine the severity of the injury. A neurological examination can be performed as well as diagnostic testing using a CT scan or MRI. These scans are helpful for viewing the damage that has been done but are not very useful in determining the child’s prognosis. Now, researchers have found a tool that can be used to better analyze an infant’s injury so that treatment can be more effective.

Elk & Elk

Pediatric Researchers Found Useful Analytical Tool

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found an analytical tool that is useful in assessing brain injuries in oxygen-deprived newborns. Wavelet analysis technology is used in weather prediction but has now been found to be helpful in pediatric care. The tool predicts weather patterns such as El Nino. Now, this same tool can be used in newborn birth injury treatment. The use of this technology could greatly improve treatment for these infants.

How Wavelet Analysis Technology Works

This technology creates heat maps of the baby’s brain. The method is non-invasive and offers real-time results so doctors can get fast information. The imaging test measures the brain’s blood flow and nerve function to make an image that is called neurovascular coupling. The researchers say that the two main measurements it takes are most important in assessing an infant’s brain function.

This innovative technology utilizes a combination of amplitude EEG and near infrared spectroscopy information in a new way to better review the infant’s brain damage. The test is very helpful in learning whether current treatments are working properly. The analysis shows red areas on the brain map where neuronal activity and brain perfusion are synchronized, indicating optimal treatment.

Birth Asphyxia

There are various reasons why an infant could be oxygen deprived during labor or delivery. The birth could be delayed or difficult, the baby could be in distress or in the incorrect position, or the cord could be wrapped around the infant’s neck. When an infant is oxygen deprived the standard form of treatment is to provide cooling therapy. Cooling therapy lowers the baby’s core temperature. The therapy is provided in a neonatal intensive care unit, and the infant is usually monitored for the duration of treatment which may be up to 72 hours. Wavelet analysis technology is used to determine how well cooling therapy is working. The technology will also be used to evaluate which infants qualify for cooling therapy. This technology may also help with the development and testing of new therapies.

UT Southwestern Medical Center is a leader in pediatric treatments and participated in the original neonatal cooling study ten years ago. The study found that cooling the baby’s temperature with a cooling blanket can benefit some newborns who have been oxygen deprived. The latest technology will be used in a new study of newborns called HEAL. The study is part of a clinical trial of a drug, erythropoietin that will be used to promote red blood cell production as a treatment for infants who were oxygen deprived at birth.