Premature babies helped by brain washing

New technique may reduce death rate and disabilities for babies born very early


The number of deaths and severe disabilities experienced by premature babies could be reduced by a new technique that’s best described as a brain wash.


Very premature babies are at risk of bleeding in the brain, which can result in brain damage or death. But the new brain washing technique, pioneered by UK doctors, may decrease this risk.

The technique sees the brain drained while new fluid is introduced. It is known as Drift and is carried out over a couple of days. It’s not for all premmies though – it would only be used on the most premature babies with large haemorrhages that make the brain and head to expand too much.

Currently, the technique that’s used takes place over months and involves the build up of fluid being removed from the head and spine by needles. However, a new study of 77 babies by Bristol University suggests the new technique could be more successful. Of the 39 babies to receive the ‘brain wash’ treatment, by the age of 2 years 54% had died or were severely disabled. Of the babies who had the standard treatment, this number was 71%.


“This is the first time that any treatment anywhere in the world has been shown to benefit these very vulnerable babies,” said one of the lead researchers, Ian Pople, a paediatric neurosurgeon.

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