RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Systemic hypothermia induced within 10 hours after birth improved neurological outcome in newborns with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the efficacy of systemic hypothermia when applied within 10 hours after birth to neonates with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).

STUDY DESIGN: Ninety-three term infants with moderate-to-severe HIE were randomly assigned to either systemic hypothermia (n = 46) or conventional treatment (n = 47). Hypothermia was induced within 10 hours after birth, decreasing rectal temperature to 33.5°C for 72 hours, followed by slow rewarming to 36.5°C. Neurodevelopmental outcome was assessed at 18 months old. The primary outcome was death or moderate-to-severe disability.

RESULTS: Outcome data were available for 82 infants. Death or moderate-to-severe disability occurred in 21 of 44 infants (47.7%) in the control group and in 7 of 38 infants (18.4%) in the hypothermia group (P = 0.01) at 18 months. The primary outcome was not different whether hypothermia was started within 6 hours or 6 to 10 hours after birth. Subgroup analysis suggested that systemic hypothermia improved long-term outcome only in infants with moderate HIE (P = 0.009), but not in those with severe HIE. No severe hypothermia-related adverse events were observed.

CONCLUSION: Systemic hypothermia reduced the risk of disability in infants with moderate HIE, in accordance with earlier studies. Hypothermia was induced within 6 hours in most infants, but delaying the onset to 6 to 10 hours after birth did not negatively affect primary outcome. Further studies with a large number of patients are needed to confirm that delayed cooling is equally effective.

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