Cool babies to cut brain damage1st October 2009
Cooling babies starved of oxygen at birth could help reduce the risk of brain damage.
Researchers studied 325 babies in 33 hospitals across six countries, including the UK, and found that the risk is reduced if the infant is given mild hypothermia.
The findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that full-term babies who suffered oxygen loss at birth were 57% more likely to survive without brain damage if their bodies were cooled by about 40C using a fluid-filled mat under their sheet.
Dr Denis Azzopardi from Imperial College London said: "The study builds on a 20-year body of research but gives, for the first time, irrefutable proof that cooling can be effective in reducing brain damage after birth asphyxia.
"Although unfortunately it doesn't work in every case, our study showed the proportion of babies that survived without signs of brain damage went from 28% to 44% with cooling treatments - that's a 57% increase."
At this stage doctors remain uncertain as to why this helps but suggest slowing the metabolism could reduce the after effects of birth trauma.
The children’s charity Bliss welcomed the research and said that cooling of babies with birth asphyxia is a technique already being used in some neonatal centres.
The charity’s Family Support Manager Carmel Bartley: "This is a specialist treatment that we would like to see used more widely to ensure the very best outcomes for our most vulnerable babies."
The study also involved hospitals in Ireland, Sweden Finland, Hungary and Israel.
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Title: Cool babies to cut brain damage
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 12801
Date Added: 1st Oct 2009