Children's Hospital Colorado
NEONATAL INTENSIVE CARE UNIT (NICU)
NEONATAL INTENSIVE CARE UNIT (NICU)
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Whole Body Cooling for Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy

Our neonatal whole body cooling program provides state-of-the-art care for babies who have experienced reduced oxygen or blood flow to their brain. The care team at Children’s Hospital Colorado features a range of specialists who care specifically for babies’ developing brains. Our team is among the most experienced in the nation in neonatal body cooling. They can help limit damage from brain injury and help your baby grow up as healthy as possible.

What is whole body cooling therapy?

Neonatal body cooling, also called newborn therapeutic hypothermia, lowers your baby’s body temperature to treat hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). HIE is a neonatal brain injury that occurs if your baby’s brain doesn’t receive enough oxygen. HIE can cause brain impairment, such as epilepsy, developmental delays and motor and cognitive skill impairment. Our neonatal body cooling system slowly and safely lowers your baby’s body temperature to 92 degrees Fahrenheit, which slows the brain’s metabolism and can prevent further damage.

The sooner body cooling starts, the better the outcomes for your baby. This is why we have the capability to begin infant cooling during neonatal transport. Our neonatal transport experts are experienced in safely beginning cooling therapy while your baby is being transported to Children’s Colorado by the only pediatric-only transport service in the Rocky Mountain region.

What should you expect from neonatal body cooling?

During neonatal cooling, your baby lies on a water-filled cooling blanket to lower their body temperature. Your baby will typically stay on the cooling blanket for three days, which research shows can decrease the severity of brain injuries. While on the blanket, your baby will have constant electroencephalogram (EEG) monitoring by a pediatric neurologist who is specially trained to monitor your baby’s brain wave activity.

Our team of specialists are all on-site 24 hours a day if your baby needs any special care during treatment. These specialists include board-certified neonatologists, neurologists, neuro-radiologists, neonatal nurse practitioners, nurses and neonatal developmental specialists. If needed, our specialists provide care for seizures, hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis for kidney failure and advanced breathing and heart care through ECMO and other ventilation care.

What should you expect after neonatal body cooling?

After three days, we will slowly and safely warm your baby to their normal body temperature. Our neonatologists, neurologists and any other necessary specialists will evaluate your baby. They may conduct additional EEGs or MRIs to ensure your baby’s brain has responded to cooling therapy.

Once your baby is ready to leave our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), they will likely need follow-up care with your pediatrician, and we will help coordinate that. Our team includes dedicated neonatal developmental specialists in occupational, physical and speech therapy to help your baby grow and develop. We also coordinate your follow-up care with a team of specialists in our Neonatal Brain Injury Clinic, which is the only clinic of its kind in the Rocky Mountain region.

Your baby’s long-term outcome after a neonatal brain injury depends on a number of factors, such as when the brain injury was detected, how quickly body cooling was administered and other individual factors. Children who have been treated for HIE may have developmental delays, but many kids are very similar to their peers after body cooling. Children’s Colorado is involved in multiple research projects to help advance body cooling care and improve outcomes for babies who need it.

Why should you choose Children’s Colorado for whole body cooling?

The NICU at Children’s Colorado was part of the original research effort for body cooling therapy in the early 2000s, and we have been providing the treatment, and refining it, ever since. Few NICUs in the country have the experience, expertise and advanced technology for neonatal body cooling that we do.

Our care starts with specialized steps to provide cooling during transport from other hospitals. Starting cooling as soon as possible helps improve outcomes. We helped create the protocols for body cooling during transport and validated them with research.

We provide 24-hour monitoring by experts who specialize in caring for neonatal brain injuries and can discuss your baby’s injury and answer any questions you have. Our pediatric neuro-radiologists can spot small but important changes in diagnostic images that inform your treatment plan to make sure it’s as complete as possible. These specialists have an eye that can only be developed through extensive experience and training in caring for children’s brains.

Our neonatal occupational, physical and speech therapists work only with infants and have specific expertise in helping your baby develop to their fullest potential after treatment. You will have a full team of pediatric experts, which is among the most experienced in the nation in body cooling, caring for your baby.

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