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Recent Study: Cooling Babies May Help Prevent Brain Damage

Victor Lewin - Monday, February 02, 2015

Cerebral palsy can have a severe impact on a mom, dad and baby. It usually results when babies are deprived of oxygen at birth. Medical malpractice occurs when this oxygen deprivation is reasonably preventable but where doctors and nurses fail to act in time. Oxygen deprivation at birth leads to an increased chance of severe brain damage, and a potentially permanent decrease in potential IQ as the child grows older. Fortunately, medical experts around the world continue to look for ways to treat or protect against the severe consequences of oxygen deprivation at birth.

A recent BBC report describes a new study released by the New England Journal of Medicine that found that cooling babies who suffered oxygen deprivation immediately after birth decreases the chances of the long-term consequences of oxygen deprivation.

Evidently, the study looked at babies who were placed on a cooling mat at 33 degrees Centigrade for three days immediately after they were born. It also considered a control group of babies who were treated using the traditional methods. After waiting several years, the study reexamined the children and tested them for the following:

  • IQ scores
  • Memory power
  • Attention spans
  • Signs of disability

The results were impressive. Children who had been cooled as babies were less likely than those who had received standard treatment to have neurological abnormalities and performed better in tests of manual ability.

About 45% of cooled children had no brain abnormalities, compared with 28% of those who had had standard treatment.

And some 21% in the cooling group had cerebral palsy, compared with 36% in the control group.

Babies in the hypothermia group were also more likely to have IQ scores above 85.

Oxygen Deprivation at Birth

Unfortunately, oxygen deprivation at birth is something that is not all that uncommon in even the most sophisticated hospitals. For example, in the New England Journal of Medicine study, it is noted that 1 in 500 babies suffer from some level of oxygen deprivation.

There can be a number of reasons for oxygen deprivation at birth. However, several of the causes have to do with doctors and nurses failing to do their jobs properly. When this occurs, the baby's present and future health is put into serious jeopardy and several of the long-term effects of oxygen deprivation do not become apparent until later in the child's life.

When these misfortunes occur, the family of the child may want answers from the doctors, nurses, and hospital that may have caused their child to suffer these injuries. Usually such answers can only come through the civil justice system. In Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI, families are entitled to seek compensation for the injuries their child sustained. To learn more about how to recover for a birth injury, speak to a dedicated birth injury lawyers at Wagners.

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