Studying brain-cooling for birth asphyxia

In high income countries brain cooling is standard treatment for neonatal encephalopathy - unexpected, devastating brain injury due to low oxygen and blood in the baby's brain at birth. This therapy reduces mortality and disability.

Encephalopathy occurs more often in poor countries – about 400 UK babies die every year from this condition, as opposed to 1 million per year in low and middle-income countries.

However, a statistical analysis of all cooling studies in low and middle-income countries (covering 567 infants) shows no mortality reduction with cooling. The study is published in the public-access journal PLOS ONE.

Lead researcher Dr Sudhin Thayyil, of the UCL Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Institute for Women's Health, says: "Many of the studies we examined had few babies or were poorly designed. It remains unclear whether brain cooling is beneficial in low and middle-income countries."

Professor Seetha Shankaran (Director of at the Children's Hospital of Michigan) led the first study of the effects of whole body brain cooling in high-income countries (NEJM, 2005). She says: "…we need more infants evaluated in a setting in to see if cooling is beneficial."

Dr Angie Wade, senior lecturer in at the UCL Institute of Child Health, says: "Although was similar to that in high-income countries, brain cooling benefit was unproven for low and middle-income countries and more data is needed to determine whether routine clinical use is justified."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Bacteria detected in food may cause abortions

3 hours ago

The results of research conducted in the ICAS Culiacán reveal that at least 10 percent of the fresh cheese, sausages and meats sold in markets and on the street may be contaminated.

UN Ebola czar heads to West Africa

8 hours ago

The UN's new pointman on Ebola said Tuesday he will travel to West Africa this week to shore up health services in the four countries hit by the worst-ever outbreak of the virus.

User comments