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2.  Iodine Supplementation in the Newborn 
Nutrients  2014;6(1):382-390.
Iodine deficiency can be defined as the world’s greatest single cause of preventable brain damage. Fetal and neonatal hypothyroidism, caused by iodine deficiency can be prevented prior to conception and then during pregnancy and lactation when an adequate iodine supplementation is ensured. Extremely low birth weight preterm babies risk having a negative iodine balance status in the first weeks of life, exacerbating the hypothyroxinaemia of the prematurity. It is important to ensure that these babies are provided with an adequate iodine intake from the first days of life. Mothers and newborns should avoid environmental iodine excess during pregnancy or lactation.
PMCID: PMC3916868  PMID: 24448111
iodine deficiency; iodine supplementation; thyroid function; newborn
3.  New Techniques in the Study of the Brain Development in Newborn 
PMCID: PMC4299644  PMID: 25653608
magnetic resonance imaging; cranial ultrasound; neurodevelopmental outcome; diffusion tensor imaging (DTI); tractography
4.  MEchatronic REspiratory System SImulator for Neonatal Applications (MERESSINA) project: a novel bioengineering goal 
Respiratory function is mandatory for extrauterine life, but is sometimes impaired in newborns due to prematurity, congenital malformations, or acquired pathologies. Mechanical ventilation is standard care, but long-term complications, such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia, are still largely reported. Therefore, continuous medical education is mandatory to correctly manage devices for assistance. Commercially available breathing function simulators are rarely suitable for the anatomical and physiological realities. The aim of this study is to develop a high-fidelity mechatronic simulator of neonatal airways and lungs for staff training and mechanical ventilator testing. The project is divided into three different phases: (1) a review study on respiratory physiology and pathophysiology and on already available single and multi-compartment models; (2) the prototyping phase; and (3) the on-field system validation.
PMCID: PMC3743639  PMID: 23966804
simulation; lung; newborn; continuous medical education; respiratory system
5.  Compensatory Feto-Placental Upregulation of the Nitric Oxide System during Fetal Growth Restriction 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45294.
Fetal Growth Restriction is often associated with a feto-placental vascular dysfunction conceivably involving endothelial cells. Our study aimed to verify this pathogenic role for feto-placental endothelial cells and, coincidentally, demonstrate any abnormality in the nitric oxide system.
Prenatal assessment of feto-placental vascular function was combined with measurement of nitric oxide (in the form of S-nitrosohemoglobin) and its nitrite byproduct, and of the endogenous nitric oxide synthase inhibitor asymmetric dimethylarginine. Umbilical vein endothelial cells were also harvested to determine their gene profile. The study comprised term pregnancies with normal (n = 40) or small-for-gestational-age (n = 20) newborns, small-for-gestational-age preterm pregnancies (n = 15), and bi-chorial, bi-amniotic twin pregnancies with discordant fetal growth (n = 12).
Umbilical blood nitrite (p<0.001) and S-nitrosohemoglobin (p = 0.02) rose with fetal growth restriction while asymmetric dimethylarginine decreased (p = 0.003). Nitrite rise coincided with an abnormal Doppler profile from umbilical arteries. Fetal growth restriction umbilical vein endothelial cells produced more nitrite and also exhibited reciprocal changes in vasodilator (upwards) and vasoconstrictor (downwards) transcripts. Elevation in blood nitrite and S-nitrosohemoglobin persisted postnatally in the fetal growth restriction offspring.
Fetal growth restriction is typified by increased nitric oxide production during pregnancy and after birth. This response is viewed as an adaptative event to sustain placental blood flow. However, its occurrence may modify the endothelial phenotype and may ultimately represent an element of risk for cardiovascular disease in adult life.
PMCID: PMC3459972  PMID: 23028913
6.  Safety and efficacy of topiramate in neonates with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy treated with hypothermia (NeoNATI) 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:144.
Despite progresses in neonatal care, the mortality and the incidence of neuro-motor disability after perinatal asphyxia have failed to show substantial improvements. In countries with a high level of perinatal care, the incidence of asphyxia responsible for moderate or severe encephalopathy is still 2–3 per 1000 term newborns. Recent trials have demonstrated that moderate hypothermia, started within 6 hours after birth and protracted for 72 hours, can significantly improve survival and reduce neurologic impairment in neonates with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. It is not currently known whether neuroprotective drugs can further improve the beneficial effects of hypothermia. Topiramate has been proven to reduce brain injury in animal models of neonatal hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. However, the association of mild hypothermia and topiramate treatment has never been studied in human newborns. The objective of this research project is to evaluate, through a multicenter randomized controlled trial, whether the efficacy of moderate hypothermia can be increased by concomitant topiramate treatment.
Term newborns (gestational age ≥ 36 weeks and birth weight ≥ 1800 g) with precocious metabolic, clinical and electroencephalographic (EEG) signs of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy will be randomized, according to their EEG pattern, to receive topiramate added to standard treatment with moderate hypothermia or standard treatment alone. Topiramate will be administered at 10 mg/kg once a day for the first 3 days of life. Topiramate concentrations will be measured on serial dried blood spots. 64 participants will be recruited in the study. To evaluate the safety of topiramate administration, cardiac and respiratory parameters will be continuously monitored. Blood samplings will be performed to check renal, liver and metabolic balance. To evaluate the efficacy of topiramate, the neurologic outcome of enrolled newborns will be evaluated by serial neurologic and neuroradiologic examinations. Visual function will be evaluated by means of behavioural standardized tests.
This pilot study will explore the possible therapeutic role of topiramate in combination with moderate hypothermia. Any favourable results of this research might open new perspectives about the reduction of cerebral damage in asphyxiated newborns.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN62175998; Identifier NCT01241019; EudraCT Number 2010-018627-25
PMCID: PMC3478965  PMID: 22950861
Neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy; Therapeutic hypothermia; Topiramate
7.  Universal neonatal audiological screening: experience of the University Hospital of Pisa 
The early identification of pre-lingual deafness is necessary to minimize the consequences of hearing impairment on the future communication skills of a baby. According to the most recent international guidelines the deafness diagnosis must occur before the age of three months and the prosthetic-rehabilitative treatment with a traditional hearing aid should start within the first six months. When a Cochlear implant becomes necessary, the treatment should start between the age of 12 months and 18 months. The only way to diagnose the problem early is the implementation of universal neonatal audiological screening programs. Transient evoked otoacoustic emissions (TEOAE) is the most adequate test because it's accurate, economic and of simple execution. Automatic auditory brainstem response (AABR) is necessary to identify patients with auditory neuropathy but it is also important to reduce the number of false-positives.The 20-30% of infant hearing impairment is represented by progressive or late-onset hearing loss (HL) so it's also necessary to establish an audiological follow up program, especially in infants at risk.
From November 2005 all neonates born in the University hospital of Pisa undergo newborn hearing screening. From 2008 the screening program follows the guidelines for the execution of the audiological screening in Tuscany which have been formulated by our group according to the 2007 JCIH Position Statement and adaptated to our regional reality by a multidisciplinary effort. From November 2005 to April 2009 8113 neonates born in the Neonatal Unit of Santa Chiara Hospital (Pisa) have undergone newborn hearing screening. 7621 neonates (93.9%) without risk factors executed only the TEOAE test. 492 (6.1%) neonates had audiological risk factors and thus underwent TEOAE and AABR. 84 patients (1,04%) failed both TEOAE and AABR tests. 78 of them underwent further investigations. 44 patients resulted falsepositives (the 0,54% of the screened newborns). 34 neonates (4,2 ‰) had a final diagnosis of hearing impairment. 8 patients (0.99 ‰) had unilateral hearing loss (HL). 26 patients (3,2 ‰) had bilateral hearing impairment.
In our screening program the percentage of false-positives was quite low (0.54%) while the incidence of bilateral HL (3.2 ‰) is a little higher than that found in literature reports. In most of our patients premature birth or neonatal suffering represent the main cause of HL.
PMCID: PMC3082242  PMID: 21481246
8.  Prevalence of hypospadias in Italy according to severity, gestational age and birthweight: an epidemiological study 
Hypospadias is a congenital displacement of the urethral meatus in male newborns, being either an isolated defect at birth or a sign of sexual development disorders. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence rate of hypospadias in different Districts of Italy, in order to make a comparison with other countries all over the world.
We reviewed all the newborns file records (years 2001–2004) in 15 Italian Hospitals.
We found an overall hypospadias prevalence rate of 3.066 ± 0.99 per 1000 live births (82.48% mild hypospadias, 17.52% moderate-severe). In newborns Small for Gestational Age (birthweight < 10th percentile) of any gestational age the prevalence rate of hypospadias was 6.25 per 1000 live births. Performing multivariate logistic regression analysis for different degrees of hypospadias according to severity, being born SGA remained the only risk factor for moderate-severe hypospadias (p = 0.00898) but not for mild forms (p > 0.1).
In our sample the prevalence of hypospadias results as high as reported in previous European and American studies (3–4 per 1000 live births). Pathogenesis of isolated hypospadias is multifactorial (genetic, endocrine and environmental factors): however, the prevalence rate of hypospadias is higher in infants born small for gestational age than in newborns with normal birth weight.
PMCID: PMC2717564  PMID: 19558700
9.  Horizontal Transmission of Candida parapsilosis Candidemia in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2002;40(7):2363-2369.
This report describes the nosocomial acquisition of Candida parapsilosis candidemia by one of the six premature newborns housed in the same room of a neonatal intensive care unit at the Ospedale Santa Chiara, Pisa, Italy. The infant had progeria, a disorder characterized by retarded physical development and progressive senile degeneration. The infant, who was not found to harbor C. parapsilosis at the time of his admission to the intensive care unit, had exhibited symptomatic conjunctivitis before the onset of a severe bloodstream infection. In order to evaluate the source of infection and the route of transmission, two independent molecular typing methods were used to determine the genetic relatedness among the isolates recovered from the newborn, the inanimate hospital environment, hospital personnel, topically and intravenously administered medicaments, and indwelling catheters. Among the isolates collected, only those recovered from the hands of two nurses attending the newborns and from both the conjunctiva and the blood of the infected infant were genetically indistinguishable. Since C. parapsilosis was never recovered from indwelling catheters or from any of the drugs administered to the newborn, we concluded that (i) horizontal transmission of C. parapsilosis occurred through direct interaction between nurses and the newborn and (ii) the conjunctiva was the site through which C. parapsilosis entered the bloodstream. This finding highlights the possibility that a previous C. parapsilosis colonization and/or infection of other body sites may be a predisposing condition for subsequent C. parapsilosis hematogenous dissemination in severely ill newborns.
PMCID: PMC120610  PMID: 12089249

Results 1-9 (9)