Monitoring brain health in babies
A recent study conducted at
the Máxima Medical Center in Veldhoven, the Netherlands, has shown that,
by using a diffusion tensor MRI technique, it is possible to more effectively monitor
the development of white matter in the brains of infants. Researchers conducted
this study in an attempt to find a way to better monitor brain trauma resulting
from hypoxic ischemia, a brain injury caused by complications during pregnancy or
delivery that results in a lack of oxygen and nutrients.
The study used two groups of infants: 10 babies
in the test group who had been diagnosed with hypoxic ischemia and seven babies
in a reference group, who had MRI scans conducted for other clinical reasons.
The study, published in the July issue
of Radiology, focused on showing the progress of white matter development
in infants who suffered from hypoxic ischemia. The researchers used a 1.0-T MRI
system from Philips Medical Systems in Best, the Netherlands.
Scans of all the babies were taken
at birth, and those in the test group received scans again after approximately three
months. In the test group, the scans revealed abnormalities, including differences
between the hemispheres of the brain, differences in the length of fibers passing
through the posterior limb of the internal capsule and differences in the volume
of those fibers. The posterior limb of the internal capsule is the pathway for motor
and somatosensory signals.
The study showed that, if brain abnormalities
were severe, such as asymmetry in the fibers passing through the posterior limb
of the internal capsule, the defects persisted to the scan at three months and resulted
in moderately to severely impaired motor skills.
The investigators noted that minor
asymmetries between hemispheres tended to resolve by the three-month scan.
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