Neurological Conditions in the Newborn

There are a number of reasons why a newborn might have a neurological issue. It can be congenital (present at birth) or due to a premature or difficult delivery. At the Brain Research and Innovative Neurological Care for Newborns Program — also known as B.R.A.I.N. Care — at the University of Michigan, we provide comprehensive care for newborns. We utilize a multidisciplinary team of dedicated specialists, and offer the latest treatments available, many not widely available at other institutions.

Our team evaluates and treats a variety of neurological problems and conditions, including:

  • Birth asphyxia – when the baby doesn’t get enough oxygen before, during or right after birth
  • Neonatal seizures – seizures that take place during the first month of life
  • Intracranial hemorrhage – bleeding into or around the brain
  • Stroke
  • Neural tube defects – brain and spinal cord birth defects, including spina bifida
  • Brain malformations
  • Cerebrovascular malformations – such as vein of Galen (located at the base of the brain) malformations
  • Hypotonia – abnormally low muscle tone
  • Arthrogryposis – multiple joint contractures (permanent shortening of a joint) at birth
  • Congenital neuromuscular diseases – such as congenital myasthenia and congenital muscular dystrophies
  • Infections of the nervous system
  • Hydrocephalus – a buildup of fluid inside the brain
  • Neurologic impairment that requires newborns to be ventilator-dependent

This team approach draws on the expertise of neonatologists, neonatal nurses, pediatric neurologists, pediatric neurosurgeons, neuroradiologists, pediatric pulmonologists (Home Ventilator Program), pediatric medical subspecialists (e.g., hematology, infectious diseases, genetics), pediatric orthopaedic surgeons, pediatric plastic surgeons (craniofacial) and a complete range of services, including: audiology, speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy.

We treat high-risk infants using innovative procedures and technology not widely available at other institutions, such as:

  • Therapeutic hypothermia – lowering body temperature to slow neurological damage for newborns who may have suffered oxygen deprivation prior to or shortly after birth (see referral guidelines)
  • Brain MRI imaging for newborn infants in an MRI-compatible incubator equipped with MRI-compatible cardiac monitor and ventilator
  • Interventional Neuroradiology - minimally invasive techniques to treat conditions of the brain or its blood supply with ultrasound, X-ray, CT scan or MRI guidance
  • Amplitude-integrated EEG availability around the clock – used to predict neurodevelopmental outcome after birth asphyxia, diagnose seizures and more
  • Ready availability of intensive video-EEG monitoring for infants with seizures or suspected seizures
  • If your obstetrician suspects your baby may have a neurological condition, we can offer coordinated care with our Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment Center, which offers comprehensive fetal services, utilizing the latest technological advances in diagnostics, minimally invasive surgeries and open surgeries

We know the value of clinical research.  We participated in the first of several large trials of therapeutic hypothermia for hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). Ongoing opportunities for families to participate in clinical trials help to assure that they have access to the latest concepts, strategies, medications, and equipment that could offer the chance to improve long-range outcomes and minimize any residual morbidity from a most vulnerable, initial stage of life.

Health professionals may request patient transfer or consultation by calling our Newborn ICU at 734-763-4111.

 Schedule an appointment for our Neurodevelopmental Follow-Up Clinic by calling us at 734-936-4220.