Freezing The Baby: The Novel Therapy That Took Neonatology By Storm

Modern medicine is full of wonders, from mechanical ventilators that enable tiny preemies to breathe when their lungs are too small to catheters that deliver all the nutrition a neonate needs to survive the first few weeks. Advances in modern medicine, and particularly in technologies and treatments in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), have drastically increased survival rates. Take the same infant born at 1,000 grams birthweight (2.2 pounds). In 1960, that newborn had a 5% chance of living. In 2000, she had a 95% chance. As advances have enabled more infants to survive this critical period, attention has been directed towards interventions that will improve their long-term outcomes and reduce neurologic disability. Chief amongst these therapies is “therapeutic hypothermia” also known as “head cooling.” What is this intervention and who does it work for?