A renowned children’s hospital in San Diego last month started a program to try to detect and prevent brain-damaging seizures in newborns, according to the North County Times.
“Neuro NICU” is the new initiative at Rady Children’s Hospital, which is only one of 10 U.S. hospitals to have programs to proactively prevent seizures in infants, the newspaper reported.
The head of the program in San Diego, neonatal neurologist Dr. Mary Harbert, stressed that if a newborn has a seizure within its first month it apparently destroys the baby’s brain neurons and derails the way its brain “wires itself for the future,” according to the North County Times.
Via the program, nurses are specially trained to notice the signs that often proceed a seizure, such as a baby having shaky vital signs or not being alert. Newborns who appear at risk are put on an EEG, to monitor their brain’s activity, the paper said. In that way, nurses can put an infant on anticonvulsants if he or she starts having a seizure.
In the past, doctors in intensive care units haven’t been on the alert for spotting newborns who may at risk for seizures.
As an aside, the article mentions that doctors are using induced hypothermia treatment for newborns whose brains were deprived of oxygen at birth. Physicians use a cooling blanket to reduce an infant’s temperature eight degrees Fahrenheit, which reduces brain injury caused by lack of oxygen, according to the North County Times.
With the help of the Neuro NICU program, infants are being given the cooling treatment earlier, in the ambulance when they are transferred from whatever hospital they were born in, to Rady.
Babies are not born at Brady.