What is the optimal rate of cerebral rewarming after therapeutic hypothermia for neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy?


Dr Alistair Gunn
Department of Physiology University of Auckland

Therapeutic cooling of the new-born infant’s brain is the first treatment that reduces the chance of brain damage following oxygen deprivation at birth. Despite the success of therapeutic cooling of the brain with an external cap (hypothermia), its neuroprotective effects are not 100% and thus many babies receive only partial benefit. Our preliminary studies indicate that the precise rate of rewarming is critical for optimal recovery of the injured brain. Using our reproducible model of reduced brain blood flow, we will assess the effects of faster or slower brain rewarming, compared to current clinical protocols, on seizures, recovery of brain wave activity and brain cell survival. This data will then be used to optimise treatment of human babies.