One of the scariest conditions that a mother might have to deal with during childbirth is intrauterine hypoxia. This is the failure of oxygen to reach the vital organs of the baby during or before delivery. Any doctor will tell you that prevention or prediction that this condition might occur is virtually impossible. Therefore, prompt action when the condition is detected is the only way to deal with the condition. One of the side effects of birth hypoxia is HIE or hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.
HIE occurs in extreme cases of birth hypoxia. Oxygen is necessary for normal cell function in the body; therefore oxygen deprivation might result to serious physical damage on the baby. The longer an infant goes through birth hypoxia the more severe the damages will be on the baby. One of the priorities when a baby suffers from hypoxia is prevention of neurological damage. This is mainly because this is where most newborns that suffer from HIE are affected. It is estimated that almost half of newborns that suffer from HIE die or if not suffer from some form of neurological condition. Brain cooling is one of the treatments that have been introduced to try and control the damage caused by HIE. It reduces the severity of the neurological injury caused by this condition.
Brain cooling or hypothermia is done when a cooling cap is placed on the baby’s head. A machine is then regulated to circulate water at a temperature of 91 degrees F for a period of seventy-two hours. The baby is then warmed back to normal body temperature. Lowering of the baby‘s temperature consequently lowers the metabolic rate allowing cell recovery. This is not possible if normal oxygenation or blood flow is restored to the damaged cells too quickly.
During this time the heart rate, respiration and brain wave activity of the baby are also monitored. This help in determining whether the treatment is working or not. The treatment works better when it is administered immediately after birth, 6 hours if possible. It is also more effective in babies of 36 weeks gestation. Your doctor needs to act quickly in determining whether your baby is a candidate for brain cooling. This is because after six hours the option for this treatment expires. Prompt action in the case of your doctor can help prevent extreme brain damage to your baby. The treatment is relatively new but most of the doctors advocate that it might go a long way in helping prevent long term side effects of HIE.