HealthDay News — Hypothermia treatment initiated at 6 to 24 hours after birth for newborns with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy may reduce death or disability, but there is uncertainty about its effectiveness, according to a study published online October 24 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Abbot R. Laptook, MD, from Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island in Providence, and colleagues randomized infants at 36 weeks’ or later gestation with moderate or severe hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy to either cooling (33.5 degrees C) or noncooling (37 degrees C). 

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The researchers found that the composite outcome of death or moderate to severe disability at 18 to 22 months occurred in 19 of 78 (24.4%) hypothermic infants and 22 of 79 (27.9%) noncooled infants. Bayesian analysis using a neutral prior indicated a 76% posterior probability of reduced death or disability with hypothermia compared with the noncooled group (adjusted posterior risk ratio, 0.86; 95% credible interval, 0.58 to 1.29). Further, the probability that death or disability in cooled infants was at least 1%, 2%, or 3% less than in noncooled infants was 71%, 64%, and 56%, respectively.

“Hypothermia initiated at 6 to 24 hours after birth may have benefit but there is uncertainty in its effectiveness,” conclude the authors.

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