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Cooling therapy may help avert some effects of birth injury


For the vast majority of parents, the birth of a child is a momentous occasion to be cherished the rest of their lives. In some cases, though, this significant event can turn into a nightmare when a newborn incurs a birth injury.

One couple in a nearby state recently experienced a near tragedy with the birth of their infant daughter. Fortunately, a newly developed cooling therapy regime saved the baby's life.

Unfortunately for the couple, their daughter was among the one to five infants of every 1,000 who suffer asphyxia at birth; it is the third leading cause of newborn death. When she was delivered, her body was stiff and unresponsive to touch, signs that her brain had a critical lack of oxygen.

When she arrived at a nearby hospital she had a 6-hour window for treatment that was closing fast. Without the new treatment, she would either lose her life or survive with a high chance of sustaining brain damage. Doctors acted quickly, and the baby apparently survived with what may be only temporary muscle stiffness. Her parents are hoping she will develop normally.

Although not a miracle cure, the therapy greatly improves survival chances and averts the development of disabilities. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that the risks are reduced by 18 percent. Cooling the brain slows down cellular function and oxygen uptake in brain cells, partially reversing some brain cell damage and preventing later damage.

The baby's case is not uncommon, but most infants are not as fortunate in having responsive doctors with an interest in using a new technique. Many birth injuries result from doctor error and negligence. Connecticut parents who experience such trauma should consider a medical malpractice lawsuit to recover compensation for damages and hold a medical practitioner liable.

Source: Buffalo News, "Cooling newborns to save their lives," Henry Davis, Nov. 30, 2013

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