Hypothermia therapy has been progressing for a number a years (since 2006) —the theory is that applying cooling techniques to a baby who suffered brain damage because of limited oxygen or reduced blood flow at birth can reduce the death of brain cells, and create a better outcome. A new study gives us more information on the reasons that hypothermia treatment is effective.
The Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles examined 31 newborns using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (essentially MRI ) studies during and after hypothermia. Their findings were published in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism in October.
One aspect of this study was to understand why hypothermia therapy works. It appears that hypothermia reduces both the metabolism and creation of neurotransmitters, and that this may be what reduces seizures and cell death.
The Importance of these Studies
The hope is that targeted cooling techniques can slow and prevent brain cell death. In some cases, this might prevent children from developing cerebral palsy or other developmental delays. It may even prevent death, in some cases. This is because, after an insult, the brain damage does not occur immediately, but may happen over the course of days or weeks.
Eventually, it is believed that doctors will be able to target hypothermia therapy exactly as needed to do the most good. Other studies have addressed two methods—whole body cooling and cooling of the baby’s head. There is much work to be done to determine when it is most effective, and how it should be administered. But, the research is promising.
Hypothermia therapy has become the standard of care when dealing with a child who suffered lack of oxygen at birth. These therapies may prevent death, cerebral palsy, and other serious medical problems. This therapy, to be effective, generally must be administered within six hours of birth. If you have questions about hypothermia therapy, contact us at 855.712.7818, or send us your questions online.
For More Information
- Hypothermia Therapy Reconsidered
- Hypothermia Therapy: Treatment and Negligence
- Brain Injuries Caused by Lack of Blood Flow (Cerebral Ischemia)
- Birth Injuries Caused by Lack of Oxygen
- Lack of Oxygen (Asphyxia) During Labor and Delivery
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