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More than half of babies born before their due date by ten or more weeks suffer from brain damage. If an adult has suspected brain damage, they are immediately sent for an MRI scan, but the decision is not so easily made when the patient is a preterm infant.

For premature babies, the process of getting to the MRI machine, which may be on another floor or even in another building to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), is fraught with risks and complications, including germ exposure. And that’s before they are subjected to the cold environments that often surround conventional MRIs and the frightening sounds that they emit during a scan.

Because of this, ultrasound is the go-to technology for scanning newborns’ brains. It may not be as sensitive as MRI, which can show a wider range of brain abnormalities in greater detail, but it’s cheap, widely available and portable. Until recently, there was no MRI machine that came close to its level of convenience.