The Cambridge Rosie Hospital ‘Neuro-NICU’ has been awarded two grants to help newborn infants and their families from across the East of England suffering from brain injury and seizures after birth. Seizures and epilepsy are the commonest neurological emergency in the newborn period, affecting 1:2000 live births in the UK, and they are associated with a poor long-term outcome. The Neuro-NICU model was developed over 10 years ago by Prof David Rowitch while he was at UCSF and the model has been replicated widely over North America. Since his appointment here in 2016, the Cambridge Neuro-NICU has become one of the leading exponents of brain-orientated neonatal intensive care in the UK. Key developments in the Neuro-NICU have included:
- Development of rapid whole genome sequencing for the diagnosis of complex neurological problems in neonates.
- Installation of a state-of-the-art MRI scanner and dedicated neonatal MRI-compatible incubator.
- Purchase of four new video-EEG systems to detect seizures in newborns.
The Rosie Hospital regional Neuro-NICU, set up in Cambridge in 2013 by Prof. Topun Austin following a significant donation from the Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust also comprises the Evelyn Perinatal Imaging Centre (EPIC) supporting MR brain imaging and novel brain function monitoring in collaboration with University College London.
The new grants will enable:
- Improved provision of neuroprotection for babies in East of England. Newborn infants affected by brain injury in any of the 17 hospitals across the East of England are transferred to regional NICU’s for further specialist equipment. To help facilitate communication with families during this very stressful period The Health Foundation have awarded a team from across the region led by Austin a grant to develop a safe, secure and easy-to-use video-calling platform for use by staff and parents across the region to provide live updates of their baby’s condition.
- Improved detection of seizures will aide individualized treatment. The James Bradfield Memorial Grant has been awarded by the Evelyn Trust to Ronit Pressler, Consultant Neurophysiologist in Cambridge and Great Ormond Street London. The grant will fund the EAGLET study, a randomised clinical trial of two types of EEG detect seizures in the newborn. The study will be carried out in Cambridge, Luton and Norwich to inform policy for regional diagnosis seizures in the newborn.