Texas Children's Hospital is the only hospital in Texas to offer active whole body cooling for newborns during ambulance transport

Dec 12, 2013, 09:00 ET from Texas Children's Hospital

Whole body cooling treatments proven to have a long-term impact on neonatal outcomes

HOUSTON, Dec. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Texas Children's Hospital is now the only pediatric hospital in Texas to offer active and regulated whole body cooling for infants who are oxygen-deprived at birth during ambulance transport to the hospital's level IV neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Watch a video to learn more about whole body cooling for newborns.

"We've expanded our neonatal hypothermia program to offer active cooling using the CritiCool Therapeutic Hypothermia System, a very accurate temperature regulator, during transport via our Kangaroo Care ambulances, versus delaying the definitive therapy until a baby arrives at our hospital," says Dr. Jeffrey R. Kaiser, a neonatologist at Texas Children's Hospital and director of the hospital's neonatal hypothermia program. "Providing active whole body cooling during transport means that we can begin cooling an oxygen-deprived infant much sooner, potentially saving more brain cells, which is critical to outcomes and can prevent fatalities and severe neurological damage that can lead to intellectual disability, cerebral palsy and epilepsy."

Previously, oxygen-deprived infants would be passively cooled prior to and during transport, where all heat sources were turned off. Unfortunately, temperature regulation with passive cooling is quite difficult, and many infants would be under-cooled or overcooled, where they would not be adequately treated or they would reach dangerously low temperatures during transport, respectively.

Whole body cooling treatments are administered within six hours of birth, last for 72 hours and bring a baby's temperature down to 33.5 degrees Celsius (92.3 Fahrenheit) to allow brain cells that would have otherwise died or been severely damaged, to survive. Texas Children's Newborn Center, together with the hospital's new Pavilion for Women, houses the nation's largest NICU and is one of only two hospitals in the greater Houston area to offer whole body cooling treatments and the only pediatric hospital in Texas to offer safe and regulated active whole body cooling during ambulance transport using specialized cooling equipment.

An expert in hypothermia or cooling treatments for infants who are oxygen-deprived at birth, a condition known as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), Kaiser, who is also a professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, was the first physician in the world to use U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved head-cooling equipment on an infant with HIE. Recent studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine and Pediatric Research suggested that babies with HIE who were cooled shortly after birth continue to benefit from the therapy at school age.

Kaiser's research focuses largely on preventing brain injuries in premature infants and he is an internationally recognized leader in neonatal neurology and a National Institutes of Health-funded researcher. For more information about the NICU at Texas Children's visit: Texas Children's Newborn Center.

About Texas Children's Hospital
Texas Children's Hospital, a not-for-profit organization, is committed to creating a community of healthy children through excellence in patient care, education and research. Consistently ranked among the top children's hospitals in the nation, Texas Children's has recognized Centers of Excellence in multiple pediatric subspecialties including the Cancer and Heart Centers, and operates the largest primary pediatric care network in the country. Texas Children's has completed a $1.5 billion expansion, which includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute; Texas Children's Pavilion for Women, a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births; and Texas Children's Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston.  For more information on Texas Children's, go to www.texaschildrens.org. Get the latest news from Texas Children's by visiting the online newsroom and on Twitter at twitter.com/texaschildrens.

Texas Children's Hospital
Veronika Javor Romeis

SOURCE Texas Children's Hospital