In a groundbreaking discovery, doctors at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) have found a new treatment to protect newborn babies from brain damage. Inducing hypothermia in newborn babies’ brains can prevent a devastating condition known as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), a disorder that involves a newborn’s brain not getting a sufficient supply of oxygen. Affecting about two in every 1,000 infants, this condition is a leading cause of death in newborns and can cause debilitating damage if not treated immediately. It is estimated that one in every four affected infants will eventually die from HIE.
So far, doctors only know that using extreme cold works – but the reasons behind it remain unclear. In nearly every other scenario, hypothermia can be a considerably damaging condition. As the body gets colder, vital processes such as heart rate and organ function begin to slow down due to a lack of oxygenated blood.
In order to capitalize on this new discovery, doctors at CHLA are moving all equipment from the infant critical care unit into the MRS lab. Unlike a traditional MRI, an MRS machine can pinpoint brain activity and show exactly what is going on during induced hypothermia. Hopefully, this will lead to a discovery of the reason for this phenomenon and open the door for new treatments to help save the lives of even more infants. For more on this new medical finding, click here.
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