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."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Outcomes no worse for macrolide-resistant pneumonia

date 4 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For patients with Streptococcus pneumoniae pneumonia, macrolide-resistance is not associated with worse outcomes, according to a study published online March 25 in the American Journal of Respir ...

Plasma B12 levels tied to anorexia nervosa severity

date 4 hours ago

(HealthDay)—In patients with anorexia nervosa, plasma levels of vitamin B12 might be an early marker of liver dysfunction and are possibly related to more severe psychopathological aspects, according to a study ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.