In 2006, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a head-cooling cap that can potentially prevent or reduce brain damage in infants who had a lack of oxygen during birth. The Philadelphia Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) was one of the first NICU's to start using head cooling in newborns to reduce the amount of hypoxia or asphyxia related brain damage.
Just recently, according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, whole-body hypothermia (or induced low body temperature) reduced the rate of death in newborns and children to age 6-7 years, who had moderate to severe hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) after birth.
The study included 190 children born in 2000-2003 who were diagnosed with severe encephalopathy within 6 hours of life, after an acute birth injury that resulted in severe acidosis or required resuscitation. The newborns either underwent whole-body cooling for 72 hours or normal neonatal intensive care (NICU) therapies. The primary outcome measures, a combination of death or an IQ score below 70 occurred in 62% of the newborns who were not treated with cooling therapy and only in 47% of the hypothermia group. In addition, there were only 27 neonatal deaths in the cooling group and 41 deaths in the traditional NICU treatment group.
The study also looked at the severe disability or death associated with cerebral palsy after birth asphyxia. The infants that underwent cooling therapy had a 17% cerebral palsy (CP) rate as opposed to 29% in the newborns that were not cooled after birth. In addition, the rate of newborn blindness was only 1% in the hypothermia group as compared to 4% in the infants that were not cooled after birth. According to Dr. Seetha Shankaran, director of the division of neonatal-perinatal medicine at Wayne State University, until now, data "has not been available to assess whether the benefits of hypothermia for neonatal HIE persisted after 2 years of age." This most recent data looks promising.
Here at the Beasley Law Firm, our experienced Philadelphia birth injury lawyers are well aware of the devastating effects of HIE. For over 60 years, our experienced lawyers, doctors and nurses have been successfully representing families, just like yours, whose lives have been forever changed by a brain injury due to a lack of oxygen, hypoxia or asphyxia during birth. In addition to our experienced attorneys, we also have on staff two physicians and three registered nurses, two of them that specialized in maternal and NICU care. Our collective knowledge assisted in obtaining two of the largest medical negligence verdicts in Pennsylvania history, $100 million and $55 million, and the largest punitive damage award against a physician in Pennsylvania, $15 million, as well as hundreds of other multimillion dollar judgments and settlements. We are here to help you.
Please feel free to contact our experienced Pennsylvania birth injury lawyers at (215) 866-2424 for a strictly confidential and free consultation.