Newborn baby in a hospital bassinet.

Can "Neonatal Cooling" Prevent a Birth Injury?

What is Neonatal Cooling?

Infants who experience a lack of oxygen and blood flow to the brain during the birthing process are at an increased risk of a brain injury. Neonatal cooling, also known as hypothermia therapy, reduces cerebral injuries by gradually reducing an infant's body temperature to mitigate the risk of brain damage after oxygen deprivation at birth. Learn how neonatal cooling is used to decrease the risk of birth injuries.

How is Neonatal Cooling Administered?

Babies who suffer oxygen deprivation at birth may undergo neonatal cooling therapy to reduce the risk of further damage to the brain. The process involves the following:

  • Use of a cooling cap or blanket to reduce the baby's body temperature to as low as 91.4 °F.
  • The body temperature remains lowered for 72 hours.
  • The reduced body temperature slows down the baby's metabolic rate, which can help cells to recover and help reduce the risk of permanent brain damage.

Which Birth Injuries Can Neonatal Cooling Prevent?

Neonatal cooling is used to treat hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). HIE is a type of brain injury that occurs during childbirth when there is insufficient oxygen or blood flow to the baby's brain. The following complications before or during the birthing process can increase the risk of HIE:

  • Prolonged labor
  • Preeclampsia
  • Placental abruption
  • Placental blood circulation complications
  • Low maternal blood pressure
  • Umbilical cord complications

Are there Side-Effects to Neonatal Cooling?

Doctors must ensure babies get neonatal cooling treatment promptly and are no more than 6 hours old. When neonatal cooling is done correctly, it's a very effective method in birth injury prevention. However, there are some common side-effects:

  • Cardiovascular complications (decreased heart rate or hypotension)
  • Respiratory issues (pulmonary hypertension)
  • Electrolyte imbalance (low potassium levels in the bloodstream)
  • Coagulopathy (excessive bleeding or clotting)

During rewarming, babies may be at an increased risk of seizures, narrowing of the airway, or slowed breathing (apnea).

Contact Our Birth Injury Law Firm For Help

Big cases require big resources. Learning that your baby suffered a birth injury that could have been prevented is devastating news. When negligent medical professionals fail to give a duty of care, we are here to help protect your rights and hold the liable parties accountable for their negligent actions. At Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd & Conway, PSC, our attorneys are experienced in handling some of the most challenging and unique birth injury claims. When pursuing a birth injury claim, time is of the essence. In Kentucky, injured parties have one year(in exceptional circumstances five years) from the date of injury to take legal action against medical professionals, hospitals, or other licensed medical entities.

Contact us today at (502) 242-8872 to speak to one of our lawyers today.

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