About the Project

Normal pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, but sometimes babies are born too early, even as early as before 32 weeks. These preterm babies are very vulnerable and susceptible for brain damage due to their immaturity. Because their brains are still developing very fast, they have a high metabolism in their brain cells. This makes them very vulnerable for complications such as shortage of oxygen. Because of this, the brain can be damaged by too much or too little oxygen. Disturbances in oxygen can lead to damage in different regions of the brain leading to unwanted complications, for instance motor problems (cerebral palsy), epilepsy, or behavioral and learning disorders later in life. Brain oxygenation can be monitored bedside and non-invasively by near-infrared spectroscopy. This gives clinicians and researchers the opportunity to evaluate oxygen supply to the brain constantly. For instance, what the effects of hemodynamic problems (relatively often occurring) are on brain oxygenation. Early identification of inadequate brain oxygenation combined with subsequent adequate interventions can prevent brain damage and improve long term outcome. Some other examples of problems that affect brain oxygenation are: inadequate adaptation from intra-uterine life to life after birth, administered oxygen for respiratory support, or carbon dioxide levels in the blood
Although near-infrared spectroscopy is not universally accessible yet, the insights into the effects of monitoring brain oxygenation and the right corresponding interventions are applicable and relevant worldwide.


Laura Dix and her team at The Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital in Utrecht are as determined as the Biltema Foundation to help improve healthcare for everyone. We are proud to be donors to this project focussing on health care for children which is a matter of the heart for us at Biltema Foundation.

The Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital (WKZ) is located in the middle of the Netherlands, in Utrecht. Founded in 1888, the center has a longstanding reputation with respect to scientific research: “BRAIN” research is one of its strategic research programs, as is “Child Health”. Both research foci are especially committed to translational research on the edge of experimental research and clinical application. This emphasizes the social relevance of research and health care innovation. The WKZ is a large clinical center, responsible for a region of 2,4 Million people and 25'000 births yearly. Our neonatal intensive care unit admits nearly 600 babies every year, whereas another 600 are admitted to the high and medium care units.

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