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Pediatr Neurol. 2005 Jan;32(1):18-24.

Moderate hypothermia in neonatal encephalopathy: safety outcomes.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina 29425, USA.


Hypoxic-ischemic injury may cause multisystem organ damage with significant aberrations in clotting, renal, and cardiac functions. Systemic hypothermia may aggravate these medical conditions, such as bradycardia and increased clotting times, and very little safety data in neonatal hypoxic-ischemic injury is available. This study reports a multicenter, randomized, controlled pilot trial of moderate systemic hypothermia (33 degrees C) vs normothermia (37 degrees C) for 48 hours in infants with neonatal encephalopathy instituted within 6 hours of birth or hypoxic-ischemic event. The best outcome measures of safety were determined, comparing rates of adverse events between normothermia and hypothermia groups. A total of 32 hypothermia and 33 normothermia neonates were enrolled in seven centers. Adverse events and serious adverse effects were collected by the study team during the hospital admission, monitored by an independent study monitor, and reported to Institutional Review Boards and the Data and Safety Monitoring Committee. The following adverse events were observed significantly more commonly in the hypothermia group: more frequent bradycardia and lower heart rates during the period of hypothermia, longer dependence on pressors, higher prothrombin times, and lower platelet counts with more patients requiring plasma and platelet transfusions. Seizures as an adverse event were more common in the hypothermia group. These observed side effects of 48 hours of moderate systemic hypothermia were of mild to moderate severity and manageable with minor interventions.

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