Monday, January 26, 2015

The Infant Sibling Study and MRI: Frequently Asked Questions



One of CAR’s longest running studies is our Infant Sibling Study (IBIS). IBIS’s goal is to understand how the brain develops in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) compared to typical development. We hope that better understanding will improve methods for early detection of ASD and early intervention. For this reason, the study is enrolling infants with an older sibling who has an ASD diagnosis and is comparing this group to a group of infants with an older sibling who is developing typically. We are actively recruiting families who fit either category.

Because this study is focused on brain development, all participants receive an MRI scan of their brain. This allows for an extremely sensitive view of your child’s brain. The IBIS study has already found a number of very important differences in the brain and behavior of young children who eventually develop ASD, and we will discover more before the study concludes in 2017.

If you have questions about the MRI procedures, please see our frequently asked questions (FAQ) below!

For other questions about the IBIS study, please do not hesitate to reach out to the study team. Their contact information is located here.

What is an MRI? Is it like an X-ray?
Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, is a method for taking pictures of the brain (and other body parts). There is no X-ray or other radiation involved.

Is it safe for my infant to receive an MRI?
Yes! We don’t put your child to sleep with medications (sedation), and research has shown that there are no short- or long-term negative side effects of MRI.

Is my child awake for the MRI scan?
No, we complete the MRI scans at nighttime, allowing your child to fall asleep naturally and sleep through the scan. 

You mentioned that the scans take place at nighttime and that kids should follow their regular bedtime routine. How can I put my child to bed in a hospital setting?
We offer different approaches depending on your child’s age and individualized bedtime routine. For young infants, we offer a rocking chair where you can nurse/feed/rock your child to sleep. For older infants and toddlers, we have a bed with safety railings. You can read to your child or complete any other bedtime rituals. Some parents have brought a Pack ‘n Play with them because that is where the child is comfortable falling asleep.

How will I know if my child wakes up?
We will be in the room with you and your child the entire time and will be watching your child’s eyes and movements to monitor his/her sleep. If your child wakes up, we immediately stop the scan. If time allows, we wait until your child is soothed back to sleep and resume the scan. If time does not allow, we may invite you to come back another night to complete the scan.

Aren’t MRI machines loud? How do you protect my baby’s ears?
All babies wear protective earmuffs, and extra foam padding is placed around their ears to reduce the sound of the MRI. 

How long is the MRI appointment?
MRI appointments are on average two hours long. About an hour of that time is provided for you to complete nighttime routines and to get your child to sleep. Once your child falls asleep, they will be in the scanner for about 45 minutes.

How frequently will my child receive an MRI as part of this study?
Every time your child has a study visit, he/she will receive an MRI scan. There will be four scans in total throughout your participation in the study.

What can I do to prepare my child for the MRI scan?
We provide each family with a CD of MRI sounds, so you can play it for your child ahead of time to become familiar with the sounds. Also, one of our clinicians will be in touch with you about a week before the scan to review soothing techniques specific to you and your child and to answer any of your questions. 

Where will I bring my child for the MRI scan?
All scans take place at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

What do I need to bring with me to the MRI appointment?
You should bring anything you need for your child’s bedtime routine, as noted above. An MRI-safe outfit will be provided to your child, which is comfortable and metal free.   

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