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Pediatrics. 2006 Mar;117(3 Pt 2):S28-33.

Summary proceedings from the neurology group on hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.

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Department of Pediatrics, Weill Cornell Medical College, 525 E 68th St, N-506, New York, New York 10021, USA.


Hypoxic-ischemic cerebral injury that occurs during the perinatal period is one of the most commonly recognized causes of severe, long-term neurologic deficits in children; it is often referred to as cerebral palsy. Despite improvements in perinatal practice during the past several decades, the incidence of cerebral palsy attributed to intrapartum asphyxia has remained essentially unchanged, primarily because management strategies were supportive and not targeted toward the processes of ongoing injury. Two processes of neuronal injury can be demonstrated after hypoxia-ischemia: neuronal necrosis and apoptosis. Because the mechanisms of these processes likely differ, strategies to minimize brain damage in an affected infant after hypoxia-ischemia likely will have to include interventions that target both processes. The goals of management of a newborn infant who has sustained a hypoxic-ischemic insult and is at risk for evolving injury should include (1) early identification of the infant at highest risk for evolving to the syndrome of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, (2) supportive care to facilitate adequate perfusion and nutrients to the brain, and (3) consideration of interventions to ameliorate the processes of ongoing brain injury. Although the neurology group was unable to develop a definitive framework for the study of neuroprotective strategies for neonatal encephalopathy, it (1) listed key questions to be addressed before exploring possible study designs for managing hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy in neonates, (2) identified important study-design issues, (3) determined general principles and key elements for neuroprotective-treatment strategies, (4) identified potential treatment strategies, (5) proposed a clinical-trial framework, and (6) identified key elements for a potential clinical-trial framework comparing hypothermia with hypothermia "plus" for moderate-to-severe encephalopathy.

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