Research and Clinical Trials
Seattle Children’s is the only member of the Children’s Hospital Neonatal Consortium in the Pacific Northwest. The group tracks quality and outcomes across Level IV NICUs to improve care for babies born very early or with complex conditions.
Recent research breakthroughs have made it possible for babies born very early or with complex conditions to survive. However, many of these babies must cope with significant lifelong mental and physical challenges.
Our neonatologists are leading pioneering research efforts to improve the outcome for these tiny patients so that they don't just live – they thrive.
New Therapies to Reduce Brain Injury
Neonatologist Dr. Sandra “Sunny” Juul is working to find better ways to treat and protect the newborn brain. She is the co–principal investigator in a new study using a hormone, recombinant erythropoietin (rEpo), combined with hypothermia to treat term babies whose brains did not get enough oxygen at birth (asphyxia). Epo is a hormone that stimulates the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body.
Extremely premature babies and babies who have asphyxia, stroke or other neurological stresses are at severe risk of permanent brain injury or death. Even when not fatal, these injuries can lead to long-term problems like cerebral palsy (CP), developmental problems, hearing or visual impairment or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Approximately 50% of extremely low–birthweight babies have severe developmental problems including CP, intellectual disability, deafness and blindness. Juul is the principal investigator of a multicenter trial to determine if rEpo will improve their outcome. Across the United States, 941 extremely low–birthweight infants were enrolled in the study and are being followed for two years. The study will be completed by late 2018.
Studying – and Reducing – Newborn Stress
Dr. Sunny Juul is studying the long-term effects of severe neonatal stress and pain on the developing brain. She is also looking at the long-term effects on the brain of narcotics such as morphine, which are frequently used to reduce neonatal pain.
Caregivers in the NICU work to reduce the environmental stresses in the NICU and use nondrug comfort measures. These include "nesting" the baby in the incubator and keeping the noise level down.
The goal is to find the safest, most effective ways to both decrease stress in the NICU and to relieve pain with medicine.
Hands-on Training to Help Babies Breathe
Luckily, most babies don’t have breathing difficulties at birth. When they do, childbirth providers and transport teams need to act quickly and surely. That’s why we created hands-on, simulation-based training on placing a breathing tube and resuscitating a baby.
Seattle Children’s and the University of Washington offer the training for healthcare providers across the region. It is called Neonatal Education and Simulation-based Training (NEST). Read more.
Participate in Research
Help us answer questions about childhood health and illness, and help other children in the future. Learn more.