Revolutionary brain scan that detects injury at birth ready to “roll out” across hospitals

A new brain scan could help diagnose brain injuries in infants up to two years earlier than current methods, a report has revealed.

In a revolutionary new study, seven hospitals across the UK and USA have used the brain scan – known as magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy – to identify brain damage in babies with a 98 per cent accuracy.

The report, published by the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, notes that the technology used is the same as that needed for an MRI scan, and requires the baby to spend just 15 minutes in the scanner.

According to the latest statistics, around one in every 300 babies are born with a brain injury in the UK, but current technology is unable to accurately assess the extent of the damage until some years later.

Brain damage caused before, during or after birth can lead to a condition known as cerebral palsy, with symptoms including muscle stiffness, lack of coordination and reduced mobility.

Commenting on the study, Dr Sudhin Thayyil, report author and Director of the Centre for Perinatal Neuroscience in Imperial’s Department of Medicine, said: “At the moment parents have an incredibly anxious two-year wait before they can be reliably informed if their child has any long-lasting brain damage.

“But our trial – the largest of its kind – suggests this additional test, which will require just 15 minutes extra in an MRI scan, could give parents an answer when their child is just a couple of weeks old.”

Dr Thayyil added that this will help parents plan for the future and get the care and resources in place to support their child’s long term development.

The researchers said they must now take furthers stops to roll out the revolutionary new scan in more hospitals as a clinical tool.

To read the report in full, please click here.