Cooling Cap May Avoid Newborn Brain Injury

cooling capEvery year, about 5000-9000 new-born babies experience neonatal brain damage.

The condition is classed as rare and can occur even after a perfectly normal pregnancy.

This can make the crucial difference in reducing or preventing brain damage in infants.

Following an initial brain injury, the dying cells produce substances that go on to damage other brain cells. Doctors at Memorial Hospital are now using a cooling cap that can revolutionize the treatment of the condition.

The cooling cap, which is built with EEG electrodes on the inside, simply fits over the infant’s head. The cap is designed to be used shortly after the birth of the baby. It maintains a steady and constant flow of chilled water to cool the baby down. The cap has FDA approval for the treatment of full-term babies only.

Dr. Robert D. White, a neonatologist at the hospital, explained the case of Valerie Macias, a baby who was born by C-section at Elkhart General Hospital. Valerie became unresponsive soon after birth and had to be resuscitated.

Dr. White, who happened to be at Elkhart with a colleague, was informed of the emergency and had Valerie transferred immediately to the Neonatal unit at the Memorial.

There, Valerie was given the cooling cap treatment for four days, preventing the chain chemical reaction that causes more brain damage. The cooling cap was able to control the brain damage by slowing down the baby’s metabolism.

Dr. White mentioned that although this does not work with all infants, it is a life-saving procedure in the cases it does work. Little Valerie, who is safe but still recovering, is one of those lucky cases.


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