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Pediatrics. 2011 Aug;128(2):e450-2. doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-3508. Epub 2011 Jul 4.

Subcutaneous fat necrosis after moderate therapeutic hypothermia in neonates.

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National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, Oxford, UK.


Therapeutic moderate hypothermia in newborns with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy is rapidly becoming standard clinical practice. We report here 12 cases of subcutaneous fat necrosis among 1239 cases registered with a national registry of newborns treated with moderate whole-body hypothermia. All the infants suffered from perinatal asphyxia and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. Moderate-to-severe hypercalcemia was identified in 8 of 10 infants with blood calcium measurements. In all cases the skin lesions appeared after completion of the cooling treatment. Our data suggest that prolonged moderate hypothermia is an actual risk factor for subcutaneous fat necrosis. Because the lesions often develop several days after birth, physicians need to be aware of this condition as a possible complication in infants treated with moderate hypothermia after asphyxia. Blood calcium levels need to be monitored in affected infants.

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