Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A New Hope for Sick Babies

Cerebral Palsy affects approximately 17 million people worldwide and thousands of babies are born with it every year. Until now, there was no treatment. But a new study has found that cooling the bodies and blood of high-risk full-term babies shortly after birth may significantly reduce disability or death.

Cerebral Palsy can be caused when the brain is starved of oxygen at birth. It often takes hours or days for dangerous chemicals to build up and kill the brain cells that control motor function. Lowering the brain's normal temperature four degrees slows the build up and prevents damage. In the study of 208 babies, only 44% who received cooling died or developed a disability, compared with 62% of those who received normal care. "This is the most promising treatment we have today", says study author Dr. Seetha Shankaran of Children's Hospital of Michigan.