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The treatment for HIE only works if it's administered in time

During the course of your pregnancy, you probably fantasized about what your child would be like. You may have wondered what kind of person your child would turn into, along with what kind of life he or she would lead. If so, you aren't alone. Nearly every parent thinks about these things as they await the arrival of the newest addition to their families. Like most other Texas parents, you also had your share of worries, including how the labor and delivery would go.

In any birth, there is the chance that the baby will suffer from oxygen deprivation due to a variety of factors. If the loss of oxygen is significant, it could lead to hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. HIE leads to brain damage if not properly treated within a timely manner.

The benefits of therapeutic hypothermia

In order to arrest the progression of any brain damage, newly born infants can be cooled down to about 34 degrees Celsius (approximately 93.2 degrees Fahrenheit) for around 72 hours. The child's temperature can then be brought back up to normal slowly. In order for this treatment to be effective for HIE, it must be used under the following conditions:

  • At 10 minutes after your baby's birth, his or her Apgar scores cannot be more than five.
  • Your child is not more than six hours old
  • The birth must be no sooner than 36 weeks.
  • Your baby weighs more than 1800 grams (about four pounds).
  • Your baby still needs ventilation and/or resuscitation efforts after 10 minutes.
  • Your child cannot exhibit life-threatening vascular or respiratory system abnormalities.
  • Your baby's neurological exam shows moderate to severe issues.
  • The base deficit within 1 an hour of birth is less than 16 mEq/L.
  • Your baby's arterial blood gas pH or Cord pH is not more than 7.0.

If your doctor fails to recognize the symptoms of HIE in time, it could be too late for this treatment to work. Since there is only a limited window of time in which therapeutic hypothermia is effective, your child could suffer irreversible brain damage as a result.

Then again, even if the treatment begins in time, the failure to properly monitor your child could lead to harm as well. A child undergoing therapeutic hypothermia requires close monitoring to ensure that brain activity, respiration and heart rate remain stable. If the medical personnel attending to you and your child make mistakes, your baby could face a lifetime of challenges due to receiving substandard care.

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