Short title: REPORT – BPD feasibility study
Design: A mixed methods observational cohort feasibility study.
Study: Setting Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust.
Aim: To explore the feasibility of measuring the right ventricular function of the premature heart to develop a prediction model to identify early BronchoPulmonary Dysplasia in premature infants.
Study participants: The study team is planning to recruit 40 preterm infants born at < 32 weeks of gestational age over 18 months.
What does Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD) stand for?
Broncho - it affects the child’s air-passages; Pulmonary - it affects the child’s Lungs; Dysplasia - the child’s air-passages and lungs are not fully developed.
What is the problem?
Babies born early often need breathing support, which can hurt their fragile lungs. These injuries can lead to damage and scars in the lungs, which is called BPD. Every year BPD affects several thousands of babies born before 32 weeks of pregnancy in the UK i.e., born more than 8 weeks before their due date. Babies born so early, are expected to stay in the hospital between two to four months. This depends on how sick they are.
It is common that BPD causes poor body, brain growth and long-term breathing problems, which can lead to serious consequences, such as, disability or death. To date, we know very little about the early effect of BPD on the heart, the lungs small blood vessels and how they affect each other. Finding new ways to recognise early BPD will help clinicians provide treatment and studying future treatments to halt the progress of the disease.
What are we trying to do?
We want to identify babies with early BPD, through finding out how hard the heart is working in the affected babies.
What will we do?
We will do a research study looking at how hard the right large chamber of the heart is working when early BPD is present in a preterm infant.
How will we do it?
Quite often, babies born before 32 weeks-of-pregnancy require heart scans for different clinical reasons, so the study will include this group of babies since they are also at a higher risk of getting BPD.
Each baby will have two heart scans on the 5th and 9th days after birth. Since, BPD cannot be diagnosed till the babies reach the age of 36 week of corrected gestation, in other words, 4 weeks before their due date, the study team will follow up with the babies until then so they can see if the baby still needs breathing support and/or oxygen.
What will we do with the results?
We will try to create a new way to find babies with early BPD by looking at their hearts. This technique will help doctors to treat early and stop the progress of BPD in the affected babies.