Thousands of premature babies to benefit from North West breathing support trial
A North West trial of alternatives to ventilators for
helping premature babies to breathe could reduce the risk of lung
problems and other complications for around 7000 babies a
Led by Dr Suresh Victor from the Newborn Intensive Care
Unit at Saint Mary's Hospital in Manchester, the study also
involves experts from The University of Manchester, and several
neonatal units from the North West of England. The team from
the 'Extubate Trial' will look at two alternatives to long-term use
of a ventilator, to see which helps premature babies the
most. They have been awarded funding of £240,000 by the
National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to carry out the
Dr Victor, who is also a clinical lecturer in the School of
Biomedicine at The University of Manchester, explained:
"Babies born prematurely have breathing difficulties and need
support from a ventilator, which gives them regular breaths through
a breathing tube in the wind pipe. The process of removing
the tube, known as extubation, and allowing the baby to breathe on
its own does not always go to plan. Around a quarter of
babies need to have the breathing tube replaced in the wind
pipe. This can be traumatic and spending more time on the
ventilator can damage the baby's immature lungs.
"Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (n-CPAP) and Biphasic
Positive Airway Pressure (n-BiPAP) are ways of supporting breathing
that are less invasive - they use tubes that go only a few
millimetres into the nostril. n-CPAP produces a constant
pressure at the nose that is transmitted to the lungs. n-BiPAP
produces a constant pressure and also gives extra breaths. We
want to find out if these extra breaths will give the baby the
added support needed to stay off the ventilator."
The trial will involve up to 540 babies born before 30 weeks'
gestation and who are less than two weeks old. They will
randomly receive either n-CPAP or n-BiPAP, with the research team
monitoring which device allows the baby to breathe most comfortably
and stay off the ventilator.
A group of parents of premature babies who are actively involved
with the research group at the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research
Centre, have played an important role in designing the trial.
They will continue helping the team during the study and will be
involved in communicating the results at the end of it.
Uma Aziz, a parent who is supporting the study said: "As a
parent of a child born at 25 weeks, I think this study is of
paramount importance especially as more and more preterm babies are
surviving. Our baby was on a ventilator, on n-CPAP and
n-BiPAP at various stages of her stay in the neonatal unit, so we
are quite excited about the study and its findings and subsequent
Added Dr Victor: "Early and successful extubation would
mean that premature babies will spend less time on the
ventilator. This will reduce the chances of injury to the
baby's lungs and allow for more efficient use of intensive care
cots at specialist centres. It would also mean that babies
can be moved sooner to hospitals closer to their homes. Many
neonatal units across the country already have n-CPAP or n-BiPAP
equipment, so whichever alternative proves the most successful can
quickly be adopted as the preferred method."
Notes to editors:
The NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre was created by the
National Institute for Health Research in 2008 to effectively move
scientific breakthroughs from the laboratory, through clinical
trials and into practice within hospitals to improve patient care.
As a partnership between Central Manchester University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Manchester, the
Biomedical Research Centre is designated as a specialist centre of
excellence in genetics and developmental medicine. www.manchesterbrc.org
For further information please contact Kate Henry, Communications
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