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Cooling therapy gives injured infants second chance

It is one of the happiest days of any parent's life - the day that your child is born. This dream can quickly turn into a nightmare for parents of newborns who are unresponsive, however, when they discover that their child does not cry or respond to stimuli. Luckily, new technology is being implemented throughout North Carolina to reduce the risk of long-term brain injury because of oxygen deprivation or traumatic birth. Doctors are now using a radical cooling therapy to reduce the impact of this type of birth injury.

Few treatments have provided direct medical support for babies who are affected by birth asphyxia, when a baby does not get enough oxygen while being born. That condition is the third-largest cause of newborn deaths, making it a significant concern for medical experts everywhere. Cooling therapy can reduce the risk of not only disability, but also death, by about 15 to 18 percent. Brain-injured children are less likely to experience negative effects during their first six to seven years if they go through the treatment. Babies are cooled below normal body temperature for about 72 hours, at which point they are slowly re-warmed.

Without the cooling treatment, children can be left with serious conditions such as cerebral palsy and mental disabilities. Even without severe brain damage, victims often suffer from ongoing learning disabilities and other cognitive shortcomings. The treatment is still relatively new, with only the most advanced hospitals in each state offering cooling therapy.

Children who suffer injuries during delivery may experience long-term consequences that limit their cognitive function. Physicians who act negligently in the birthing room may be able to provide additional support to an injured baby, however, using this new cooling therapy. Doctors still make medical malpractice errors that warrant financial repercussions, but the impact of those birth injuries can be reduced through the use of such innovative treatment methods.

Source: www.buffalonews.com, "Cooling newborns to save their lives" Henry Davis, Nov. 30, 2013

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