Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, Calif., is focusing on the brains of babies in hopes of preventing life-altering brain injuries. The program, called Neuro NICU, was launched on Oct. 25, 2012 to provide neurologists access to sick newborns.
New Approach Aims for Detection and Prevention of Seizures
One of the main targets of the program is to prevent seizures. The program director, Dr. Mary “M.J.” Habert, explains that seizures in infants kill neurons and appear to alter the development of the brain. These changes in the neural wiring may lead to learning difficulties, developmental problems, memory difficulty and even a predisposition to epilepsy.
Highly trained nurses identify the telltale signs of potential seizures so at-risk infants can be monitored using an electroencephalogram (EEG), which measures the brain’s electrical activity. The EEG alerts doctors immediately if an infant goes into seizure so they can administer anti-convulsants to halt the episode.
Early Intervention Key to Preventing Brain Injury
Moderating the severity of brain injury is highly time-dependent, and the new Neuro NICU program is helping Rady improve how quickly they administer treatment. Perinatal asphyxia, which occurs when a newborn is deprived of oxygen at birth, is treated with a cooling blanket to drop the newborn’s temperature by about eight degrees Fahrenheit. This can significantly reduce the severity of brain injury.
No children are actually born at Rady; instead, newborns in distress are transferred there. Because of a study enabled by the Neuro NICU, hypothermia treatment now begins in the ambulance, making use of the time it takes to transfer the infant from their birth hospital to Rady.
Focusing on the Brain for a Brighter Future
The goal of Rady’s new approach is to improve children’s chances of normal development. The point is not just survival, but long-term health. The only way to achieve that is to focus on the brain from a very young age; research and technology is helping neurologists and neonatologists work together to achieve that goal.
When a baby suffers a brain injury, it is devastating for the family and the tragedy comes with both emotional and financial burdens. Sometimes brain injury cannot be prevented, but other times it is a direct result of the negligence of a hospital or medical staff. If you or a loved one has suffered the trauma of birth injury, please contact us immediately. You may be eligible for compensation to help alleviate your financial strain and help provide needed medical treatment to better your child’s future. We provide a free consultation with one of our experienced and compassionate attorneys.