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Did Your Newborn Suffer Cerebral
Palsy or Another Brain Injury Before
or During Labor and Delivery?

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Our Birth Brain Injury Resource Guide

the guide

Get a FREE guide of resources available throughout Ohio to children and families of children who were born with brain injuries.

Our guide can help you build a foundation of knowledge and tools that will help you help your child
now and in the future.

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Birth Brain Injury Clinical Trials

Medical advances are making the treatment of birth brain injuries much more effective. To assess the suitability of each approach, medical researchers will first have to carry out thorough clinical trials. Here are some of the latest developments in the field.

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Therapeutic Hypothermia: Cooling Therapy

Cooling therapy, scientifically called therapeutic hypothermia has been studied extensively for its positive effect on the treatment of traumatic brain injuries in newborns.

A comprehensive overview of the therapeutic approach was presented in The Neurohospitalist journal in 2014. The report concludes that the temperature of the body plays a determining role for all biochemical processes. A low temperature has a protective effect, especially when an injury is triggered.

Hypothermia also affects blood coagulation, platelet count and platelet function. This effect is the most prominent one when brain injuries are involved because the severity of hemorrhages can be limited.

Elk & Elk

A prominent cooling therapy clinical trial was published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine in 2011. The trial took place in neonatal intensive care units in the US, New Zealand, Australia and Canada. Newborns with a brain injury and moderate to severe encephalopathy were randomly allocated to either standard care or cooling therapy.

The outcome of the trial suggests that cooling therapy reduces the risk of death and neurological disability at the age of two. The mortality rate in the control group was 14.9 percent higher (66.3 percent versus 51.4 percent in the cooling therapy group). Minimal adverse effects were experienced as a result of the cooling therapy. As a result, researchers concluded that whole-body hypothermia is an effective option for managing the most serious impairments caused by a birth brain injury.

Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cell therapy is also proving promising for individuals that have experienced a brain injury at birth. While still in the early research phases, this therapeutic approach could be the next big thing in the world of overcoming neurological disorders and cognitive impairments.

Only animal clinical trials have been carried out so far. Stem cell therapy proved to be effective in terms of damaged tissue and organ regeneration. The risk of rejection and side effects is minimal.

There are still challenges to overcome. Neural stem cells are difficult to harvest, they’re found in small numbers and they lack homogeneity. The accessibility issue and the lack of numerous neural stem cells are currently serious problems that stand in the way of making the therapeutic approach more readily available.

Researchers have looked for alternatives. Umbilical cord blood and amnion epithelial cells have both been used for this kind of therapy. Both of these increase the brain’s regenerative capacity. They can differentiate in a wide array of cells, which could be the answer to overcoming brain injuries.

Other Therapeutic Approaches

Multiple other therapeutic approaches have been examined for their possibility to reduce damage and speed up recovery in the case of a traumatic brain injury during birth.

Progesterone therapy is currently in a pre-clinical stage. A few studies have been conducted and the results show that the administration of progesterone in the first few hours after the injury could potentially limit the scope of brain damage. when patients have been administered standard care and progesterone therapy, mortality rates have gone down significantly (from 33.6 to 13.4 percent).

Decompressive craniotomy is another therapeutic approach but clinical trials have delivered controversial information about it. DC involves the removal of a small portion of the cranium for the purpose of relieving intracranial pressure. In one pediatric study, DC was linked to unfavorable outcomes and a high mortality rate. Another experiment, however, suggested that DC could increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

A few other therapeutic approaches that have been subjected to strenuous testing include magnesium supplementation (inconclusive evidence of effectiveness), mannitol (sometimes effective for reversing brain swelling), corticosteroids (once again used for the purpose of reducing brain swelling) and calcium channel blockers – a potential tool for the reduction of cerebral vasospasm.