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Memorial Hospital for Children Introduces Cooling-Cap

For Immediate Release

Dec. 1, 2008

Memorial Hospital for Children is the first to bring the Olympic Cool-Cap System to southern Colorado. This Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved device reduces brain injury in full-term infants who have experienced low oxygen before or during birth. Before the cooling cap, up to 20 percent of these babies died and 25 percent suffered permanent disability because of neurological defects.

Approximately two out of every 1,000 full-term babies experience low oxygen before or during birth. This can be caused by an umbilical cord wrapped around their neck, from a uterine rupture or other complication. A lack of oxygen causes brain damage that can result in cerebral palsy, mental retardation or even death.

“This treatment is offered by fewer than 30 hospitals in the country,” said Robert Kiley, M.D., neonatologist at Memorial Hospital for Children. “We are really excited that our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) will bring this level of care to the babies here in southern Colorado. We have just received the equipment and we are looking forward to being able to use it in just a few weeks.”

In order to be effective, the cap must be placed on the baby’s head within six hours after birth and remain in place for exactly 72 hours. The sooner the cap goes on, the greater the success of reducing brain injury. The cap cools the brain to 92 degrees Fahrenheit, saving up to 80 to 90 percent of those brain cells that would otherwise have died. Cold water runs from a cooling machine through hoses that circulate through the cap. After 72 hours, the cap slowly re-warms the child for an additional four hours. Since only the head is cooled, the rest of the baby’s body experiences a temperature only slightly below normal.

Selective head cooling is another example of Memorial Hospital for Children’s commitment to serving southern Colorado’s sickest newborns in the only level IIIb NICU in the region.

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For more information, please contact the Memorial Health System Public Relations office at (719) 365-5235.