Nearly one-third of premature babies develop bleeding in the brain after birth, a problem associated with serious long-term effects such as cerebral palsy, seizures and blindness.
But some of these devastating complications could be prevented if physicians could catch and treat such brain hemorrhaging, also called intraventricular bleeding, when it begins. To this end, University of Florida researchers from the colleges of Medicine and Engineering have received a two-year, $694,000 grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in collaboration with EGI Inc. to develop a device that not only monitors preemies’ fragile brains, but also detects intraventricular bleeding as soon as it starts. The research also will give physicians a more detailed understanding and timeline of how and when brain hemorrhages typically occur in babies.
“When we look at preterm babies with intraventricular hemorrhages, we detect them after the fact, so we really don’t know what is happening in the brain at the time of the hemorrhage,” said Dr. Michael Weiss, a neonatologist and an associate professor of pediatrics in the College of Medicine who has teamed with biomedical engineer Dr. Rosalind Sadleir, of the College of Engineering, on the project. “If we can identify the exact moment when a bleed occurs, we may be able to develop therapies that can help prevent bad outcomes from happening.”