Treating Catastrophic Birth Related Brain Injuries: A Chance to Limit a Vexing Problem?

            For some time, physicians have been providing hypothermia, or cooling treatments, to infants suspected of suffering hypoxic brain injuries at or surrounding birth.  The belief if that cooling the cerebral tissue can limit or halt the progression of brain injury in the infant's brain.  Recent studies in the United Kingdom now suggest that the addition of xenon gas can further halt the progression of brain injury. 

            According to the Daily Mail, in an article published December 1, 2012, doctors in Great Britain are using the inert gas to treat asphyxic birth injuries.  According to published data, two of every 1,000 deliveries in developed countries result in birth asphyxia, puting the baby at risk for hypoxic brain injury also known as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy.  If the xenon gas treatment works, it would annually spare tens of thousands of children and their families the emotional and financial tolls associated with catastrophic brain injury and cerebral palsy.  According to the article, Britain's Medical Research Council is funding the world's first research trial to determine the benefits of xenon treatment in infants suspected of oxygen deprivation.  We can only hope that medical science can find a way to treat this awful problem.  For a copy of the article, click here.

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