If your baby experienced birth hypoxia or hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), it means they were cut off from oxygen during delivery. In the past, experiencing these conditions almost certainly meant some degree of cognitive impairment. However, advances in science have discovered new treatment options that may be able to minimize the impacts of birth hypoxia and, in some cases, reverse infant brain damage. Here’s how.
HIE is extremely serious and requires immediate attention. About 85% of infants who experience HIE will experience cognitive impairment, develop a disability (such as cerebral palsy), or expire shortly after birth.
A new treatment called “Therapeutic Hypothermia” is both lowering the fatality rates and reducing long-term cognitive impairment. This treatment is exactly what it sounds like; doctors wrap the baby with a temperature-controlled blanket and cap to reduce their body temperature for several days.
While the average person’s body temperature is about 98.6 Fahrenheit, therapeutic hypothermia seeks to keep core body temperature at about 91.5 Fahrenheit.
By lowering a baby’s body temperature immediately after oxygen deprivation, the damaged brain cells have a chance to recover while reducing their impact on other systems. Of infants who received therapeutic hypothermia, the fatality rate was as much as 20% lower than children receiving conventional care. In almost all cases where a child developed disability and cognitive impairment, those who received hypothermia treatment had more positive outcomes.
While this breakthrough sounds incredible, it is far from perfect. Researchers still have a long way to go in determining the best way to apply therapeutic treatment and over what time span. That said, if you fear your baby is at risk of HIE or birth hypoxia, you may want to call around and find out if any of your local hospitals offer this potentially life-saving therapy.
If your child was diagnosed with a latent birth injury, we are here for you. If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Atlanta medical malpractice attorney from The Mabrey Firm, don’t hesitate to give us a call at (404) 814-5098 or send us an email.