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'Brain wash' technique can help premature babies

Posted April 2, 2010

'Brain washing' could drastically reduce the risk of death or brain damage in very premature babies.

The term "brain washing" conjures up negative images, but doctors in Britain have developed a procedure by that name that could drastically reduce the risk of death or brain damage in very premature babies.

The technique was used on Issac Walker-Cox, who suffered a massive brain hemorrhage after his birth. Issac was thirteen weeks premature.

Doctors warned Isaac's parents that there was only a one percent chance their baby would even survive. When they learned about the new procedure, they felt they had nothing to lose.

Procedure can help preemies Procedure can help preemies

“We didn't give up hope. We just prayed about it,” said his father, Steven Walker-Cox.

Isaac was one of the first to be part of a pioneering experiment that might reduce the risk of severe brain damage.

Two tubes are inserted into the baby's brain. One continuously drains old blood, debris and toxins from the hemorrhage. The second tube slowly pumps clean, artificial fluid in. Gradually the fluid runs clear, indicating that brain-damaging toxins are gone.

“The inside of the brain is literally washed out,” said Andrew Whitelaw, professor of neonatal medicine at Bristol University.

“It's a bit like having a sink with a lot of coffee grounds in it which are clogging up the drainage of the sink.”

In a recently published study of 77 premature babies who had bleeding in the brain after birth, those treated with the technique were far less likely to suffer disabilities later in life.

Doctors say Isaac's development speaks for itself. He is a normal nine-year-old boy, and he's determined that nothing will hold him back.
 

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  • todmax Apr 6, 2010

    Considering that this procedure was given to a newborn, I'd say there wasn't much wait time.

  • timbo 2.0 Apr 6, 2010

    "Now take what you said, and say the exact opposite."

    No, pay attention. You will now wait for healthcare and it be meted out will long wait times.

    "This procedure occured in the UK, which utilizes a government run health care program."

    True. And is it available for all? Currently, the UK wait times for healthcare are the worst in Europe.

    "Most neos are not "save at any cost", do not equate medical progress with that mentality."

    The cost of caring for premies is enormous. Especially those that have health problems, which is most of them. Add to that the quality of life for the very early premies, one has to wonder if it is worth the cost.

  • MomOfTwins Apr 5, 2010

    "In reality, there does need to be an evaluation of the "save at any cost" mentality that Dr.'s and the Medical community seem to have with premies." -timboletsgo

    You have obviously never been blessed with a premie. Or a full-term baby that has a brain bleed.
    Most neos are not "save at any cost", do not equate medical progress with that mentality.

  • todmax Apr 5, 2010

    This procedure occured in the UK, which utilizes a government run health care program.

  • scientistjo Apr 5, 2010

    "Well, now that we will have medical care completely managed by the government, which means procedures like these may not be available to all." -timboletsgo

    Now take what you said, and say the exact opposite.

  • timbo 2.0 Apr 5, 2010

    Well, now that we will have medical care completely managed by the government, which means procedures like these may not be available to all.

    In reality, there does need to be an evaluation of the "save at any cost" mentality that Dr.'s and the Medical community seem to have with premies.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Apr 5, 2010

    Congratulations! I love medical science!! :-)

    I had to laugh at the parents, though. Medical scientists are spending years getting educated, experimenting and testing to figure out how to save these preemies. Meanwhile, the non-medical parents think a deity is involved...like cavemen who used to think the same about thunder and lightning. ;-)

    Keep it up, scientists! :-)