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Thursday 27th October 2016

Baby given xenon gas to prevent brain injury

9th April 2010

Xenon gas treatment to prevent brain injury has been used on a newborn baby for the first time.

The treatment, pioneered in Bristol, was used on baby Riley Joyce when he was first delivered by emergency Caesarean section at the Royal United Hospital, Bath.

He had no pulse and was not breathing and had a 50:50 chance of permanent brain injury.

He was transferred to St Michael's Hospital, Bristol, where his parents Dave and Sarah Joyce agreed to the experimental treatment and is now doing well.

The gas is used to “cool babies” to reduce damage in the newborn brain.

In the UK, more than 1,000 otherwise healthy babies born at full term die or suffer brain injury caused by a lack of oxygen or blood supply at birth.

The xenon technique was developed by Marianne Thoreson, professor of neonatal neuroscience at the University of Bristol, and Dr John Dingley, consultant anaesthetist at Swansea University's School of Medicine.

Professor Thoreson said: "Over the past eight years, we have shown in the laboratory that xenon doubles the protective effect of cooling on the brain.”

She said that the major challenge was in how to safely and effectively deliver this “rare and extremely expensive gas” to newborn babies.

The device has been authorised for clinical trials and will be used on a minimum of 12 babies over the coming months in a feasibility trial which is being funded by Sparks, the children's medical research charity, which has committed almost £800,000 to the team's work.


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