A neonatal research update from Drs Max Berry and Maria Saito Benz

First of all, we would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to all the babies and families who have taken part in our studies – you have given us a great support and we are incredibly touched to hear that many of you are just as passionate as we are about improving care of vulnerable babies through research. 

We’re excited to share what’s happening in the world of research in Wellington NICU this year. As some of you may already be aware, we have started a series of projects called Near-Infrared spectroscopy for Monitoring cerebral Oxygenation (‘NIMO’ studies!). Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is an exciting new technology, which allows us for the first time to ‘see’ the oxygen levels in a baby’s brain in real-time. As you can imagine, making sure that the brain gets an adequate and steady supply of oxygen is crucial for our vulnerable babies on the neonatal unit. We’re hoping that by improving our understanding of how oxygen delivery to the brain is controlled, we can develop new ways to support the health and development of even our smallest and sickest babies. 

NIMO_AISo we have a series of exciting observational studies lined up in Wellington NICU. The first project is NIMO for Anaemic Infants (‘NIMO-AI’). In this project we are looking at how treating anaemia (a very common problem for preterm infants) with blood transfusion changes the oxygen levels in a baby’s brain and other organs. Thanks to everyone’s support, we’re already a third of the way through recruitment! Once the study results are complete, we will be sharing them with the wider neonatal community so that we can all benefit from the knowledge we’ve gained 

Later this year, we will be starting NIMO for extremely preterm babies (‘NIMO-Prem’). Here we’ll be looking at how brain oxygenation is regulated in the tiniest of our patients during the 1st week of life – the ‘transition period’ when every effort to maintain stability in our smallest babies can make a huge difference to the rest of their lives.

We are incredibly lucky to have the full support from the wonderful Neonatal Trust, dedicated staff in Wellington NICU and the whole NICU community of past and present families. Without them, it wouldn’t be possible to do any of the work that we do today. So a huge thank you to all of you, and we’re looking forward to sharing our findings in the near future!  

 * This research uses the bioamplifier that was purchased due to The Little Miracles Trusts’ support from ICAP. You can read about this great support here.
 * Also, the data is captured using specialist NIRS probes (that can only be used once) purchased with the support from PwC and NZFMA


Dr Maria Saito Benz working hard on NIMO-AI. 

Maria and Ruby













Ruby, one of the ex-23 weekers looking pretty relaxed while she helps out with the study!  

Ruby relaxing