The use of hypothermia: a role in the treatment of neonatal asphyxia?

Pediatr Neurol. 1999 Jul;21(1):429-43. doi: 10.1016/s0887-8994(99)00020-x.


Perinatal asphyxia remains one of the most devastating neurologic processes. Although the understanding of the pathophysiology after perinatal asphyxia is extensive, there are few therapeutic interventions available to prevent or even mitigate the devastating process that unfolds after injury. The search for a safe and efficacious therapy has prompted scientists and clinicians to consider various promising therapies. One such therapy is therapeutic hypothermia. On the basis of adult, pediatric, and animal research, there is increasing evidence to suggest that therapeutic hypothermia may be an effective intervention to lessen the secondary neuronal injury that ensues after a hypoxic-ischemic insult. In this article the historic and modern-day uses of therapeutic hypothermia are first reviewed. The pathophysiology of neonatal asphyxia is examined next, with emphasis on the changes that occur when therapeutic hypothermia is implemented. Potential side-effects of the therapy in the neonate and the debate over systemic vs selective hypothermia are discussed. Lastly, although hypothermia as a potential treatment modality for neonates with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy is supported by numerous studies, the need for well-designed multicenter trials with detailed patient entry criteria and therapeutic conditions is emphasized.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Asphyxia Neonatorum / physiopathology
  • Asphyxia Neonatorum / therapy*
  • Brain Ischemia / physiopathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia, Induced / adverse effects
  • Hypothermia, Induced / methods*
  • Hypoxia, Brain / physiopathology
  • Infant, Newborn