On October 25, Rady Children’s Hospital launched a new program to help detect and prevent seizures in infants, according to the North County Times. The program, “Neuro NICU,” is similar to other programs that are implemented at about 10 hospitals nationwide. Neurologists are granted access to sick newborns to try and prevent brain injuries that could be life-changing if left untreated. The program emphasizes preventative measures in order to avoid more serious issues. Seizures in a baby’s early life, especially the first month, kill neurons and potentially damage the brain wires, causing for complications in the child’s future. As Dr. Mary Harbert states, “this disruption of brain connectivity is thought to give rise to learning disabilities, developmental problems, memory difficulty and even a predisposition to epilepsy later in life.” Monitoring babies with unstable vital signs can help prevent seizures, and nurses are trained to spot warning signs. If a baby is exhibiting any signs, the baby is immediately hooked up to an EEG for a transparent picture of the brain’s electrical activity, and anticonvulsants are administered if seizure-like activity is present. Birth hypoxia, a deficiency in the amount of oxygen reaching fetal brain tissues, occurs in an estimated one to two live births for every 1,000. Neuro NICU can minimize the effect of birth hypoxia, which can lead to extreme disabilities if the case is severe. Chief of neonatology, Dr. David Rowitch, explains that within the NICU population, about 20 percent of infants are in a high-risk category. Hospitals that can’t handle babies with severe conditions are transferred to programs like the one at Rady Children’s Hospital, where no babies are actually born. Babies who are deprived of oxygen at birth are treated with a cooling blanket, as dropping the newborn’s temperature by about eight degrees significantly reduces the risk of brain injury. This treatment now occurs in the ambulance while babies are being transferred between hospitals. Birth related neurological injury is the leading cause of mental retardation and cerebral palsy in the United States. Dr. Rowitch explains that neurological problems are going unrecognized in intensive care units across the nations, and having brain specialists present can help spot problems before they grow into life-altering conditions.