Biomarkers may be useful in identifying newborns at risk for brain injury after heart surgery

Woodruff Health Sciences Center | Feb. 24, 2012

Contact

Kerry Ludlam
404-727-5692
kerry.ludlam@emory.edu

Story image
Barbara Weissman, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine and Pediatric Neurologist at Emory-Children's Center and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, was awarded the Cardiology 2012 Ninth Annual Outstanding Investigator Award for her work.

A recent study showed that biomarkers in mothers’ and babies’ blood may be the key to providing doctors with information they need to identify newborns who are at increased risk for brain injury following cardiac surgery.  

"Early diagnosis of brain injury is critical in delivering a timely intervention," says Barbara Weissman, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine and pediatric neurologist at Emory-Children’s Center and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. "Because it is often difficult to evaluate sedated, mechanically-ventilated infants for brain injury, we set out to determine whether using a blood test would be a more efficient and accurate method of evaluating newborns undergoing cardiac surgery."  

The study included 10 newborns having cardiac surgery using cardiopulmonary bypass. Researchers performed preoperative and postoperative brain MRIs and tested maternal and patient blood samples for biomarkers S-100B, a calcium-binding protein, and neuron-specific enolase (NSE), an enzyme commonly used as a tumor marker. Participants also received neurodevelopmental testing between the ages of six and 10 months. According to the study, both S-100B and NSE were useful in identifying newborns at risk for death and abnormal neurodevelopmental outcomes after surgery. Preoperative S-100B also predicted abnormal preoperative brain MRI.

"It is interesting that S-100B and NSE seem to be helpful predictors of brain injury risk," says Weissman. "The results of this study certainly justify further research and long-term follow-up of this at-risk population."

Weissman presented the abstract, “Biomarkers useful in identifying newborns at risk for death and abnormal neurodevelopment outcomes following cardiac surgery,” at Cardiology 2012, an annual pediatric cardiology conference sponsored by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Weissman was awarded the Cardiology 2012 Ninth Annual Outstanding Investigator Award for her work.