As a TBI case manager, I’m exposed to a wide variety of cases where people have received brain injuries at various points in their lives. One of the most tragic form of brain injury can occur at birth, when babies are deprived of oxygen shortly before birth or during delivery. The condition is called hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE); it claims a high morbidity rate and an even higher rate of permanent disability.
Studies from the Neonatal Research Network of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development have recently revealed that by “lowering an infants’ body temperature to about 92 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 6 hours of life reduces the chances of disability and death among full term infants who failed to receive enough oxygen or blood to the brain during birth.” It should be noted that at this point, this is currently an experimental procedure and should not be regarded as a regular course of treatment until the necessary studies have validated the research. Nevertheless, anything we can do to minimize anoxic TBIs at birth should become a matter of primary concern for neonatal healthcare professionals.