Studying brain-cooling for birth asphyxia

March 21, 2013

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."

Explore further: Obesity linked to economic status in developing countries

Related Stories

Obesity linked to economic status in developing countries

July 18, 2012

(HealthDay) -- In low- and middle-income developing countries, socioeconomic status (SES) plays an important role in the development of obesity, particularly in women, according to research published online July 5 in Obesity ...

Recommended for you

Zika virus infection alters human and viral RNA

October 20, 2016

Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have discovered that Zika virus infection leads to modifications of both viral and human genetic material. These modifications—chemical tags known as ...

Food-poisoning bacteria may be behind Crohn's disease

October 19, 2016

People who retain a particular bacterium in their gut after a bout of food poisoning may be at an increased risk of developing Crohn's disease later in life, according to a new study led by researchers at McMaster University.

Neurodevelopmental model of Zika may provide rapid answers

October 19, 2016

A newly published study from researchers working in collaboration with the Regenerative Bioscience Center at the University of Georgia demonstrates fetal death and brain damage in early chick embryos similar to microcephaly—a ...

Scientists uncover new facets of Zika-related birth defects

October 17, 2016

In a study that could one day help eliminate the tragic birth defects caused by Zika virus, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have elucidated how the virus attacks the brains of newborns, ...


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.