Dramatic research findings just published in The New England Journal of Medicine show that lowering an infant’s body temperature to about 92 degrees Fahrenheit within the first six hours of life reduces the chances of disability and death among full-term infants deprived of oxygen or blood to the brain during birth. The study was conducted at 15 medical centers across the country, including Holtz Children’s Hospital at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center.
Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) happens when an infant’s brain is deprived of oxygen or blood before or during birth. The condition may result from a number of causes including compression or tearing of the placenta, compression of the umbilical cord and rupture of the uterus. It is estimated that HIE occurs in about one of every thousand births. More than half of the babies with a severe case of HIE die, and those who survive all experience a major disability.
A total of 208 infants took part in the study, and at random they either received the experimental cooling/hypothermia treatment or the current standard of care, which includes basic newborn intensive care supportive therapies.