A new study revealed the effects of brain cooling treatment for patients with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). In a National Institute of Health (NIH) study, physicians compared magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) from newborns who were born with HIE in 2005 and compared them to new MRIs that were taken in 2012. As a result, newborns who received cooling treatment, or hypothermia treatment, averaged higher on physical and developmental tests than those who were not treated.
Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a condition that results from a lack of oxygen to a baby’s brain around the time of birth. There are many risk factors and possible causes for HIE. Some include, compression of the umbilical cord, tearing of the placenta from the uterine wall (abruption), uterine rupture, a delayed C-section and misuse of medical equipment like forceps and vacuum extractors. HIE can lead to other mental and developmental disabilities, such as cerebral palsy. It can also lead to death.
Understanding Hypothermia Treatment and the NIH Study
In the 2005 study, physicians lowered the body temperatures of the test subjects to 92 degrees Fahrenheit for 72 hours beginning in the first hours of life. In 2012, they compared the newborn MRIs to new ones at ages 6 and 7. They found that the cooling treatment, or hypothermia treatment, saved the lives of these children with asphyxia. The infants who were a part of the control group only received standard supportive treatment. Infants who received the cooling treatment had a much higher chance of survival in comparison to the control group.
Now, they have revealed their results. They categorized their results by the severity of the injury. After evaluating a total of 124 children, the results showed the following:
If the child showed no sign of injury:
- 8 percent, or 4 out of 50 children died or had an IQ less than 70
If the child was born with slight injury:
- 17 percent, or 1 out of 6 children died or had an IQ less than 70
- 25 percent, or 1 out of 4 children died or had an IQ less than 70
If the child was born with moderate injury:
- 38 percent, or 3 out of 8 children died or had an IQ less than 70
- 65 percent, or 32 out of 49 children died or had an IQ less than 70
If the child was born with severe injury:
- 100 percent, or 7 out of 7 children died or had an IQ less than 70
The study showed that the early scans can often predict health outcomes, functionality and what life might be like for children later in life. The study was done to find the associations between age and severity of the injury. Researchers plan to conduct further studies to follow the progress of this group.
Contact Reiter & Walsh, P.C.
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At Reiter & Walsh P.C., we know and understand the importance of preventing, diagnosing and treating birth injuries as soon as they’re detected. If your child was born with HIE or another birth injury, it’s possible that medical malpractice could have occurred. We have won many successful multi-million dollar HIE cases for our clients. With experience, knowledge, and expertise in HIE, we are the birth injury attorneys that care. We practice law throughout the entirety of the U.S. and can provide you with information on specific medical malpractice laws in your state – be it Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, or another state. Please feel free to contact us 24/7 via phone, email or live chat.
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More Information on Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)
More Information on Hypothermia Therapy (Brain Cooling)
- Hypothermia Therapy Errors
- Neonatal Requirements for Hypothermia Therapy
- Hypothermia Therapy Past, Present, and Future: Where is Brain Cooling Headed?
- Research Update: Combining EPO and Hypothermia Therapy to Treat HIE
- How Does Brain Cooling Relate to Patient Safety and Medical Malpractice?