Why is this research important?

ANSeR: The “Algorithm for Neonatal Seizure Recognition” (ANSeR) project has been funded by the Wellcome Trust under a Strategic Translational Award, in hospitals across Europe, to test a computer algorithm that can detect seizures in babies.

Why do we need the ANSeR algorithm? Around 10% of all babies delivered require admission to the special care baby unit. Some of these will have suffered a brain injury or stress. Here at the Neonatal Brain Research Group we work to provide new ways of treating these babies. Past research projects have changed the way babies at risk of fits or seizures are monitored worldwide. Our group has helped to promote continuous EEG (electroencephalogram) recording of these babies’ brain waves so that we can detect and treat the “silent” seizures of the newborn.

How will the ANSeR algorithm help care for babies? Neurophysiologist expertise is not available in every hospital and certainly not available 24/7. People who have the knowledge and experience to read the EEGs of a newborn are in short supply. Our multidisciplinary group of scientists, clinicians and engineers have been working for a number of years to design new equipment and computer programs that will monitor these babies, and automatically alert us if there are problems. The culmination of this work is now known as ANSeR. Our aim is to give every one of these babies an expert opinion when they need it.
We would like to thank the parents of babies who were admitted to the NICU and participated in this research during a very difficult time. We would also like to acknowledge the dedication and support of the nursing and clinical staff of Cork University Maternity Hospital.