17 September 2019

Funding pioneering research for babies with brain injury

Southampton Hospital Charity announced today that vital funding has been secured for a research project into neonatal Hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE) – a type of brain injury that develops in babies when there is a lack of oxygen reaching the brain around the time of birth.

The research project will enable a team of clinicians and scientists at Southampton Children’s Hospital to focus on improving the accuracy of the evaluation of the brain injury caused by HIE, and how this relates to later neurodevelopmental outcomes.

HIE affects around 1-3 in 1,000 newborns in the UK and symptoms include the babies having seizures, struggling with breathing and having low blood pressure.

The immediate treatment includes cooling the baby’s body temperature to 33.5 over 72 hours, which is delivered on specialist neonatal intensive care units such as the one in Southampton. This improves survival rates and reduces the risk of severe neurological impairment, such as cerebral palsy and severe developmental delay, but affected babies remain at risk of more subtle problems which can affect school progress and emotional function.

Dr Brigitte Vollmer, Associate Professor of Neonatal and Paediatric Neurology at Southampton Children’s Hospital commented,

HIE is a fairly common neurological problem in the newborn period and it has significant long term effects on the affected baby and the whole family. With the funding we’ve received from Southampton Hospital Charity’s supporters, we have a real chance at improving the prediction of long term outcomes for the affected babies and their families by finding better tools that we can use within this period. We are so excited to begin this work.”

Jason Shauness, Director of Southampton Hospital Charity said,

Today’s funding has enabled a team of dedicated clinicians and scientists to begin research for a project that will deliver a brighter future for new-born’s and their families that are affected by HIE. We are committed to enhancing the world class facilities provided at University Hospital Southampton and we’re thrilled to be a part of this pioneering project.”

We’ve been fundraising for this project since February 2019, so watch what happened when we told Dr Vollmer the good news!

Last updated: 17/10/2019

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