ANI Photo | Study reveals how common treatment for brain injury not effective for some infants

According to a new study, therapeutic hypothermia, the sole evidence-based treatment for neonates born with neonatal encephalopathy (NE) at or after 36 weeks, is ineffective for lowering death or moderate/severe damage in newborns born between 33 and 35 weeks.
The research will be presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) 2023 Meeting, held April 27-May 1 in Washington, D.C.
Researchers investigated the efficiency of whole-body therapeutic hypothermia in younger babies, a routinely used treatment to reduce neonates’ body temperature and protect against the effects of mild or severe NE. NE is a brain disorder that occurs at or near birth and is frequently caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain. While there is evidence to support the use of therapeutic hypothermia for newborns born at 36 weeks or later, many clinicians use it for infants born at 35 weeks or less.

The trial enrolled 168 newborns born between 33-36 weeks who had NE. Half of these newborns received therapeutic hypothermia, while the other half maintained a normal temperature for 72 hours. Trial participants received a brain MRI at seven to 21 days and neuro-developmental testing with hearing and vision assessment at 18-22 months.
Researchers found a 77% probability of increased death compared to newborns for whom researchers maintained a normal temperature. The researchers found no evidence that therapeutic hypothermia reduced the combined outcome of death or moderate/severe disability among trial participants. Outcomes were assessed at 18-22 months old.
“Despite no evidence supporting its use in younger newborns, clinicians continue to use therapeutic hypothermia in newborns younger than 36 weeks,” said Roger G. Faix, M.D., professor of pediatrics/neonatology at the University of Utah and presenting author. “These study findings are clear: therapeutic hypothermia is ineffective in more premature newborns.” (ANI)

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