February 11, 2005

Oxygen-deprived babies aided by ‘cool-cap’ device

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Gerald Hickson, M.D.

Research performed at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt was published recently in the journal Lancet. William Walsh, M.D. chief of nurseries at the Children's Hospital, was the site investigator for one arm of a multi-center study on babies who experience oxygen deprivation.

A device called a “cool-cap” was placed on infants who had experienced an episode of oxygen deprivation during the birth process.

The study found that when the babies' heads were cooled, thereby lowering the body temperature three to four degrees, the incidence of movement disorders, such as cerebral palsy, was decreased in those babies at high risk for mild to moderate brain damage. Babies with the most severe brain damage were not helped by the cooling.