Whole Body Cooling
Cardon Children's Medical Center has begun to offer a therapy known as "Whole Body Cooling" for babies at risk for brain damage.
The treatment is used for babies who have suffered a lack of oxygen during the birthing process.
"The analogy I use is to picture a child at the bottom of a swimming pool," said Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Medical Director Glenn Waterkotte, MD. "Birth is a risky process, and if there is any oxygen disruption in the umbilical cord, the placenta or the mother, there is a whole cascade of problems that ends with the baby."
If blood and oxygen are cut off from the baby's brain, the risk of brain damage is increased. Birth asphyxia accounts for 23 percent of neonatal deaths globally, and survivors can suffer from long term neurological impairment, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. That's where the whole body cooling treatment comes in.
The treatment must begin within six hours of birth. The baby is cooled down to about 33.5 degrees Celsius, or 92.3 degrees Fahrenheit, for 72 hours. This preserves brain function, allowing the body to heal and for physicians to take other interventional steps.
After 72 hours, the baby is rewarmed for six hours back to a normal temperature.
The use of this treatment in newborns is new to Banner Health, and Cardon Children's Medical Center is the first to offer this service in the East Valley. Waterkotte said he expects this treatment to aid five to six babies per year. The key is to spread the word to other hospitals that this service is available to families.