NORFOLK, Va. -- A neonatologist at Childrens Hospital of The Kings Daughters (CHKD) is leading the clinical trials of a $750,000 study funded Friday, Aug. 31, to develop a device to measure the precise temperature of a newborns brain.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant stems from recent studies showing that cooling of the brain of oxygen-starved newborns dramatically reduces the incidence of Cerebral Palsy, other neurological damage, and death.
While recent studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of the brain-cooling regimen, doctors dont yet have a precise way to measure the brains temperature. The NIH grant will allow researchers to adapt a non-invasive radiometric-sensing device -- developed by Meridian Medical Systems of Woolwich, ME -- to provide precise temperatures of brain tissue beneath the skull.
Precise brain temperature measurements are essential to maximize the benefit of therapeutic hypothermia, said Thomas Bass, M.D., a neonatologist at CHKD, the pediatric teaching hospital of Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) in Norfolk, VA. Bass is also an EVMS professor of pediatrics.
About two to three in 1,000 newborns born at term are at risk of brain damage from oxygen-deprivation during birth. About half of the infants born with the condition will die or suffer severe handicaps such as mental retardation or cerebral palsy.
Historically, doctors tended to keep newborns warm, at incubator-like temperatures, and treated the hypoxic infants with medicine. But several recent studies have demonstrated that cooling the brain can significantly reduce both death and severe disability.
Injury from oxygen-deprivation continues long after delivery, said Bass, co-investigator of a groundbreaking study on the subject published in Pediatric Neurology in 2005. Cooling the brain decreases its need for oxygen and can slow or stop continuing damage.
Doctors today often cool the brain using
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Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters