Assessing brain temperature during whole-body cooling following HIE

If a baby has experienced a lack of oxygen during birth, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) can result in irreversible brain damage. A common therapy called therapeutic hypothermia (cooling) can be done directly after a birth in which asphyxia has occurred.  


There are two types of cooling performed when HIE is suspected, selective head cooling (SHC) or whole body cooling (WBC). Both types of cooling have be shown to be effective across multiple studies, but WBC has been used more frequently due to convenience. Researchers in Los Angeles dug deeper to see just how well the brain was being cooled during the process. 


The new study from 2020 used state of the art technology to measure temperature deep within the brain, the part where HIE can cause the most damage. What they unexpectedly found was the center of the brain was actually colder than the peripheral locations of the brain, showing that the cooled blood goes to the core of the brain first (Wu et al 2020).  


Researcher Dr. Wu states "The fact brain isn't homogeneously cooled is important information to have" (Children's Hospital Los Angeles 2020). Knowing where therapeutic cooling is targeting in the brain can allow doctors to customize the therapy in individual patients.  


If you suspect your baby was injured as a result of head cooling or a medical mistake created the need for head cooling treatment, it’s important you seek help from a trusted birth injury attorney. The legal team at Holton Law Firm is ready to advocate for you and your baby, and we invite you to review our free guide, Answers to Parents’ Questions About Birth Injuries. 

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