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Why would a doctor want to cool my baby after birth?

If your newborn received cooling therapy, it is likely because he or she was diagnosed with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). This birth injury is a type of brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen and shortage of blood flow to the brain.

Cooling therapy, also called therapeutic hypothermia, is probably the most common treatment for HIE. When an infant undergoes this therapy shortly after experiencing a birth injury, the therapy can minimize the amount of permanent brain damage that occurs.

This therapy involves carefully cooling a newborn’s head or whole body to about 92 degrees Fahrenheit for about three days. This slows the baby’s metabolism and can alter the brain's chemical processes. It may reduce swelling, vascular permeability, blood-brain barrier disruptions and brain cell death.

Why does HIE occur?

HIE in newborns is usually caused by asphyxia (suffocation). This may occur because of:

  • Maternal hypotension
  • Poorly functioning lungs
  • A tangled umbilical cord
  • A damaged placenta
  • Heart problems
  • Disproportion between the baby and the mother’s pelvis
  • A prolonged labor
  • Other causes

Unfortunately, HIE in newborns is often associated with medical malpractice. Medical staff should be aware of the risk factors and take steps to prevent possible complications. It is also important for medical professionals to be properly prepared for complications, should they arise.

If you believe your child’s birth injury was preventable, it may be worth exploring your options. Holding a medical professional accountable for his or her errors can result in compensation that can help you cover the costs associated with raising a child who experienced a birth injury. However, it can also help prevent a similar error from harming another newborn.

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Hixson & Brown, P.C.
160 South 68th Street
Suite 1108
West Des Moines, IA 50266

Toll Free: 800-229-9854
Phone: 515-650-4531
Fax: 515-440-6395
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