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Treatment for Infants with Oxygen Deprivation – Cooling the Body

An article this week in Common Health explored one way that oxygen-deprived newborns should be treated to avoid permanent the long-term birth injuries that can result for such deprivation. Blog readers are aware of the risks associated with oxygen deprivation. Many Illinois birth injury lawsuits are rooted in problems that developed because a team of medical professionals failed to respond in a timely fashion to prevent such deprivation or relieve it.

In discussing the issue the article shares the story of one young boy who was born in severe distress. His body was limp and he was not breathing when first born as both of his lungs had collapsed. Fortunately, the medical experts in the neonatal unit at the hospital knew just what to do and went into immediate action. A breathing tube was quickly inserted and chest x-rays were taken. In addition, the child was placed in a clear acrylic box and was rushed to a nearby Children’s Hospital. Interestingly, during the 13 mile drive to the other facility, the child ambulance crew was instructed not to turn on warmers or to swaddle the baby. The child’s temperature needed to be a cool 92.3 degrees when he arrived-six degrees lower than a normal body temperature.

The story explained that to halt the harm of hypoxia-insufficient oxygen reaching the brain-the child’s body needed to slow down. This reduces the body’s overall demand for oxygen, allowing it to operate on less energy. The cooling process slows down the body, buying the medical team more time to correct the underlying problem and preventing cascades of brain damage. Failure to do this often means that the lack of oxygen leads to cell death which ultimately causes irreversible brain damage. Our Chicago birth injury lawyers have worked with many families whose children have suffered that exact harm.

As the story explains, this oxygen deprivation is the leading cause of cerebral palsy. Nearly ten thousand children are born with the condition each year. Experts explain that such oxygen deprivation has a myriad of causes. The placenta can peel away from the uterine wall too soon, the uterus can rupture, the uterus can be infected, or the umbilical cord could get caught around a baby’s neck. No matter what the cause of the hypoxia, it is vital that caregivers act as quickly as possible to discover the situation and take action.

That action often requires cooling. For example, the boy in this case, after arriving at the second hospital six degrees cooler than normal, was immediately prepped for a hypothermia cooling procedure. He was placed in a clear plexiglass bassinet and wrapped in a specially made blanket with tubes to circulate cooled water. He was ensured proper nutrition during the process and turned every two house to ensure proper body circulation. This process lasted for three days. In this case, the cooling was a success and the boy did not suffer any permanent brain injuries.

Induced pediatric hypothermia was approved by the FDA for use about five years ago. However, it is not yet a universally used process. It is important for all those interested in these issues to follow along as news continues to develop about the overall efficacy of these cooling procedure. If it continues to show positive results, hopefully more caregivers will recognize its benefits and implement it into normal routines.

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