A routine cooling therapy has been found to cause seizures in babies who are oxygen-deprived at birth, according to a new study. As such, during the warming process when babies have seizures, further damage to the brain can be caused, they are more likely to develop neurological disabilities, and in some cases, the outcomes are direr.
Researchers from the UT Southwestern Medical Center discovered that newborn babies suffering from neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy who are put through the process of hypothermia to increase their chances of having normal brain function, many times suffer from seizures during the period where the baby is reheated, according to Medical Xpress. As such, better monitoring is being called for to help minimize the damage the seizures are causing to days old babies.
The study, which was published in the journal, JAMA Neurology, found that while the newborn brain is helped immensely when neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy has developed, it is during the warming up timeframe where real brain damage can occur. And unfortunately, this is the period in which babies are monitored less frequently.
According to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals, neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy is a “brain dysfunction that occurs when the brain doesn’t receive enough oxygen or blood flow for a period of time.” And while some children will go on to live happy lives, free from cognitive delays, many instead can develop cerebral palsy, fetal anemia, and more issues all as a result of having neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.
In order to determine that babies who suffer from neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy face a tough road when the rewarming process begins, researchers reviewed data from another study where two different ways of cooling were being compared, according to the current study.
Researchers looked at the data from the final 12 hours of cooling through the first 12 hours of rewarming, according to UT Southwestern Medical Center. What they found was that when babies were rewarmed, they faced a three times higher risk of suffering from a seizure. Further still, they were twice as likely to have a neurological disorder or die as a result of the procedure.
What this told researchers was that unlike the current standards in place where babies are not required to be monitored during their rewarming period, they need to be. This is because healthcare professionals will be able to jump in at a moment’s notice to help babies’ brains who are suffering a series of seizures. However, not knowing why they are caused, according to Medical Xpress, the seizures cannot be stopped.
By monitoring newborns closely for any seizures when they are undergoing cooling and then rewarming therapy, not only will they receive the benefits of going through hypothermia, they will also mitigate further brain damage by helping babies who are suffering a seizure. And while knowing what is causing the seizures so that they can be stopped is the best-case scenario for researchers, until that time comes, successfully getting newborns through the rewarming process as safely as possible is the goal for now.
If you witness a pregnant woman having a seizure, the first step is to call 911. Afterwards, do the following until help arrives.
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