Researchers to examine Congenital Heart Disease in Unborn Babies Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Congratulations to Debbie Jarvis and Paul Griffiths on their BHF Project grant award to study unborn babies with congenital heart disease.  The award entitled ‘MR of the brain in fetuses with congenital heart disease’ is for £279,832 over a three year period.

Doctors try to find out if there is anything wrong with an unborn baby by doing ultrasound scans. Problems with the heart (called congenital heart disease-CHD) are amongst the commonest found before birth and can seriously affect the baby after birth. Many children with CHD have problems with ‘neurodevelopment’ by having problems with e.g. intelligence, control of arms and legs or fits.

We know that brain abnormalities in the unborn baby are better shown by having a MR scan rather than an ultrasound. The purpose of this new study, is to see how many of the babies have brain problems as well as CHD and to measure how much better MR scans are than ultrasound in showing those brain problems.

When we know the answer to those questions we will be able to say if we should offer women carrying a baby with CHD an MR scan of the unborn baby’s brain.