New early warning system for the brain development of babies published

March 14, 2013, The Journal of Visualized Experiments
New early warning system for the brain development of babies published in video journal
This is an example of the device used to monitor the infant. Credit: jove.com

A new research technique, pioneered by Dr. Maria Angela Franceschini, will be published in JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments) on March 14th. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School have developed a non-invasive optical measurement system to monitor neonatal brain activity via cerebral metabolism and blood flow.

Of the nearly four million children born in the United States each year, 12% are born preterm, 8% are born with , and 1-2% of infants are at risk for death associated with respiratory distress. The result is an average of 6 deaths per 1,000 live births. These statistics, though low compared to those of 50 or even 20 years ago, are troubling both to parents and to clinicians. Until recently there were no effective bedside methods to screen for brain injury or monitor injury progression that can contribute to developmental abnormalities or infant mortality. Dr. Franceschini's new system does both.

"We want to measure cerebral vascular development and brain health in babies," Dr. Franceschini tells us. Because neuronal metabolism is hard to measure directly, scientists instead evaluate cerebral , which highly corresponds to neuronal metabolism. Dr. Franceschini and her team have developed a near infrared optical system to quantify cerebral oxygen metabolism by measuring and blood flow.

This image shows Dr. Franceschini's JoVE Article. Credit: Jove.com

The technology is an improvement on continuous-wave near-infrared spectroscopy (CWNIRS), which measures oxygen saturation but does not provide long-term or real time brain monitoring. Instead, frequency-domain near- (FDNIRS) is used in conjunction with diffuse correlation spectroscopy (DCS) to get a more robust evaluation of infant health. Dr. Franceschini explains, "CWNIRS has been used for many years but it only provides relative measurements of blood oxygen saturation. Our technology allows quantification of multiple vascular parameters and evaluation of oxygen metabolism which gives a more direct picture of infant distress."

"This technology will let us monitor babies who may be having seizures, cerebral hemorrhages, or other cerebral distresses and may allow us to expedite treatment," says Dr. Franceschini, who plans to develop and streamline this technology to one that nurses can use clinically. "We chose to publish in JoVE because it is important to show how these measurements can be done and this publication lets us reach early adopters."

Explore further: Does a bigger brain make for a smarter child in babies born prematurely?

Related Stories

Does a bigger brain make for a smarter child in babies born prematurely?

October 12, 2011
New research suggests the growth rate of the brain's cerebral cortex in babies born prematurely may predict how well they are able to think, speak, plan and pay attention later in childhood. The research is published in the ...

Recommended for you

Study examines disruption of circadian rhythm as risk factor for diseases

December 11, 2018
USC scientists report that a novel time-keeping mechanism within liver cells that helps sustain key organ tasks can contribute to diseases when its natural rhythm is disrupted.

New light-based technology reveals how cells communicate in human disease

December 11, 2018
Scientists at the University of York have developed a new technique that uses light to understand how cells communicate in human disease.

Study may offer doctors a more effective way to treat neuroblastoma

December 7, 2018
A very large team of researchers, mostly from multiple institutions across Germany, has found what might be a better way to treat patients with neuroblastoma, a type of cancer. In their paper published in the journal Science, ...

Progress made in transplanting pig hearts into baboons

December 6, 2018
A large team of researchers from several institutions in Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.S. has transplanted pig hearts into baboons and kept them alive for an extended period of time. In their paper published in the ...

'Chemo brain' caused by malfunction in three types of brain cells, study finds

December 6, 2018
More than half of cancer survivors suffer from cognitive impairment from chemotherapy that lingers for months or years after the cancer is gone. In a new study explaining the cellular mechanisms behind this condition, scientists ...

Hybrid prevalence estimation: Method to improve intervention coverage estimations

December 6, 2018
LSTM's Professor Joseph Valadez is senior author on a new study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which outlines proposals for a more accurate estimator of health data.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.