Hypothermia as Treatment for Newborns Suffering from Oxygen Deprivation

Babies who experienced oxygen deprivation at birth have higher mortality and disability rates than those who experienced a normal, healthy birth. One form of treatment is induced brain hypothermia. Brain cooling may have the following beneficial effects:

  • It may decrease the death rate in babies who suffered from oxygen deprivation
  • In those newborns that do survive, there may be less of a likelihood of substantial disability

About the Brain Cooling Treatment

One treatment to reduce brain damage caused by lack of oxygen is to induce hypothermia in the brain and head area only. Another treatment involves cooling the baby’s entire body. Treatment time may vary. In some cases cooling may last only a few hours. In other cases, treatment may last for days. Improvement has been observed at the ages of 18-24 months.

The Brain Cooling and Re-Warming Procedure

The baby’s entire body will be cooled within six hours of birth. The desired body temperature range is from 33.5 and 34.5 Centigrade. Throughout the treatment, the baby’s core temperature is monitored by a rectal probe or by other means. Re-warming will begin after 72 hours of cooling. Upon re-warming, increased heart rate and decreased blood pressure will be expected. As well, there should be a decrease in urine output. An imbalance in electrolytes is to be expected.

Michels & Lew, California Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Firm

Nothing is more heartbreaking than when a newborn experiences an injury or illness, especially one that is expected to last throughout the baby’s entire life. This is especially so when the illness or injury was preventable and occurred as a result of medical negligence. Medical professionals and hospitals have a duty to adhere to specific standards of care. When they do not adhere to these protocols, they may be liable for damages. If your baby was harmed prenatally or during or after childbirth, you may be in a position to pursue compensation. For a complimentary, no-obligation consultation with our medical and legal staff, contact Michels & Lew at 310.444.1200.