PremAtuRe nEwborn motor and cogNitive impairmenTs: Early diagnosis

PARENT envisions a multidisciplinary approach to challenge early diagnosis of newborn motor/cognitive impairments. PARENT will combine the efforts of a multidisciplinary and inter-sectorial network of several leading European research groups, industry partners, pediatric hospitals and associations to develop an innovative training context for 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) within the framework of European Training Network.

mum and baby son

The project in a nutshell

About the clinical background inside which PARENT is placed

Preterm birth (before 37 completed weeks of gestation) is the main cause of neurodevelopmental disabilities (NDD).
Data indicates an average of 15 million preterm babies per year, constantly rising. In this connection early diagnosis of brain injury/dysmaturation as well as early detection of impairments are crucial to improve the well-being of children and their families allowing for developmental monitoring and optimization of therapeutics options.

About the methodological unmet needs which PARENT aims to overcome


Reliable neuroimaging and other clinical and biochemical markers for detecting high risk infants would be critical in order to take advantage of infant neuroplasticity and improve motor and/or cognitive outcomes through effective therapies. Instead, the classical diagnosis of neurological disfunction on premature infants, is yet based upon clinical monitoring of development (by neuroimaging data, neurological and motor assessments), pointing toward possible signs of impairments as proof of an altered neurodevelopmental trajectory.

Despite the advances in neonatal care have greatly improved survival of preterm born infants even at extremely low gestational ages, we are now at a period of steadiness where no further improvement in long-term neurodevelopmental outcome is seen.

Enhancing technologies for detection and rationalization of clinical data from premature infants and follow-ups of newborn at risk for neurological injury, is therefore a necessary step to improve the long-term quality of life and lowering the social cost for the community.

About the ESR learning goals

Clinical data analysis
Retrospective and Prospective Clinical Studie
Images Collection and Processing
Biomarkers detection
Data fusion
Machine Learning
Mechanistic Modelling
Prediction Algorithms
Security and privacy

From Data

ESRs will be trained to this contest with the ambitious aim to extract all possible knowledge from available data coming from one of the most difficult patient types in medicine: a premature child is vulnerable, not able to talk, and in general far from medical technology standards.
Therefore, besides training ESRs on premature child related to neuro-diagnostic technologies, clinics, modelling, computer science and data management, PARENT emphasizes aspects related to ethics, privacy, and security which will be an integral part of the network’s training program.
Training will be released in wide network events and in individual PhD projects assigned to each ESR.

To Algorithms

PARENT will stimulate ESRs to point towards innovative, integrated, scalable NDD neurodiagnostic technologies built on an innovative holistic vision of neurodiagnostics which include disciplines such as clinical data analysis, images collection and processing, biomarkers detection, data fusion, machine learning, statistical mechanics, enhanced sampling, mechanistic and network modelling, prediction algorithms, and considering key principles of social impact, security and privacy. To best leverage the data potential, PARENT ESRs will be trained to envision easy-to-use software infrastructures which provides integrated databases, validated algorithms components and platforms built upon them.

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