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Induced Hypothermia Benefits Perinatal Asphyxia

THURSDAY, July 10, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The benefits of moderate hypothermia following perinatal asphyxia can be seen in middle childhood, according to a study published in the July 10 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Denis Azzopardi, M.D., from King's College London, and colleagues randomly assigned 325 newborns with asphyxial encephalopathy (born at a gestational age of ≥36 weeks) to receive standard care or standard care with hypothermia (rectal temperature of 33 to 34 degrees Celsius for 72 hours within six hours after birth). Neurocognitive function was evaluated at 6 to 7 years of age.

The researchers found that 52 percent of children in the hypothermia group versus 39 percent in the control group survived with an IQ score of 85 or more (relative risk, 1.31; P = 0.04). Similar proportions of children died in both groups. Survival without neurologic abnormalities was seen in more children in the hypothermia group than in the control group (45 versus 28 percent; relative risk, 1.60). Survivors in the hypothermia group had significant reductions in the risk of cerebral palsy (21 versus 36 percent; P = 0.03) and the risk of moderate or severe disability (22 versus 37 percent; P = 0.03), compared to controls. The hypothermia survivors also had significantly better motor-function scores.

"Moderate hypothermia after perinatal asphyxia resulted in improved neurocognitive outcomes in middle childhood," the authors write.

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