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Neonatal Therapeutic Hypothermia

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What Is Neonatal Therapeutic Hypothermia – Brain Cooling Treatment?

Doctors and researchers have learned that a method to eliminate or decrease the risk of brain damage involves bringing the baby’s body temperature down for a time, usually 72 hours. Whole-body cooling, called Neonatal Therapeutic Hypothermia, can contribute to improvement in the outcome of brain injury. The treatment is believed to work by limiting the advancement of brain damage and extending the time during which other therapeutic approaches to limiting brain damage can be most effective.

Using a specially designed blanket that cools with small tubes of water built into it, hypothermia treatment brings the baby’s body temperature down to 92.3 F (33.5 C). The medical team starts the treatment within six hours of birth and continues cooling the baby for three days, a total of 72 hours. They monitor vital signs throughout the procedure, tracking heart rate, breathing, and body temperature and observing brain activity.

Nutrition is provided by intravenous—IV methods and some mother’s milk. The baby is kept comfortable and resting throughout the procedure and then slowly rewarmed over many hours to a normal body temperature of approximately 98.6 F (37 C). The medical team will also evaluate an MRI scan done on the baby’s brain after the hypothermia therapy.

What Should You Expect If Your Doctor Will Be Using Neonatal Therapeutic Hypothermia?

You can expect your baby to have lower heart and respiration rates during the treatment. Your baby will also be asleep most of the time and very calm. Rest is a vital part of the process.

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What Are Likely Outcomes Following Neonatal Therapeutic Hypothermia?

Researchers studying therapeutic hypothermia treatment have not found any significant health risks. Scientists and doctors have determined that the benefits appear to outweigh any potential side effects or risks that may exist. The procedure is generally performed by trained medical teams who monitor your baby’s health throughout the cooling treatment and are alert to any changes or conditions that might cause complications.

Learn more about what to do after a birth injury in our FREE guide. View Guide
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