A new study being published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that chilling blankets directly after birth can reduce death rates and cerebral palsy in newborns. Funded by the National Institute of Health and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Neonatal Research Network, the study looked at 190 full-term babies who were born at the Detroit Medical Center and other leading American neonatal locations.
Dr. Seetha Shankaran, the primary investigator for the study, found that “The therapy, known as hypothermia, a broader term that encompasses the use of cooling products for patients with stroke and other conditions, is considered a standard of care now.”
Dr. Shankaran explained that, “The study was limited to full-term babies born at risk of encephalopathy, a condition caused by oxygen deficiencies at birth that causes high rates of death. Children who survive often enter school later or have movement and behavioral problems, as well as low IQs.”
Continuing, the doctor said, “The therapy used a type of blanket through which cooled water circulates to lower a baby’s temperature for 72 hours. It was conducted between July 2000 and May 2003, to expand findings of an earlier, more limited study.
The relatively cheap therapy (about $6000 per baby), could have an impact on many full term babies, and the researchers have not yet looked into potential help that it could offer for preemies.