If a baby has experienced a lack of oxygen during birth, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) can result in irreversible brain damage. HIE is the “single greatest contribution to overall disability worldwide” (Wassink et al, 2019). A common therapy called therapeutic hypothermia (cooling) can be done directly after a birth in which asphyxia has occurred to prevent further damage to the brain.
Head or whole-body cooling has proven to be a successful therapy, with the potential to reduce or eliminate future disabilities. Yet some infants will still develop a lifelong disability, such as cerebral palsy, despite using therapeutic hypothermia. Wassink and colleagues reviewed recent literature in hopes to find a way to optimize this therapy, specifically timing, depth, and duration of cooling.
Their findings show that “evidence suggests that current protocols of whole-body or head cooling for 72 h are reasonably close to optimal” (Wissink et al, 2019). Since the duration portion is optimal, they believe initiating cooling earlier as well as potentially combining treatments may be the key to successful therapeutic hypothermia.
If you suspect a medical mistake created the need for cooling treatment, or your baby was injured as a result of cooling, 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.