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Cooling treatment reduces epilepsy in children

A cooling treatment for babies deprived of oxygen can reduce their chances of developing epilepsy later in childhood, research has found.

A cooling treatment for babies deprived of oxygen can reduce their chances of developing epilepsy later in childhood, research has found.

For up to eight years, researchers at Bristol University followed 165 infants who were born in the South West and who received cooling therapy at St Michaels Hospital in the city.

The researchers examined how many babies were diagnosed with epilepsy and how many are on regular antiepileptic drug treatment at the ages of two and four to eight.

They found that babies, born after 2007, who received the cooling treatment (therapeutic hypothermia), had much less epilepsy than before it was introduced.

At two years old, 7% of the children had epilepsy and 2% were on antiepileptic medication, rising to 7% on regular medication at four to eight years. However, these are very low numbers needing antiepileptic treatment

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A cooling treatment for babies deprived of oxygen can reduce their chances of developing epilepsy later in childhood, research has found.


Picture: University of Bristol

For up to eight years, researchers at Bristol University followed 165 infants who were born in the South West and who received cooling therapy at St Michael’s Hospital in the city. 

The researchers examined how many babies were diagnosed with epilepsy and how many are on regular antiepileptic drug treatment at the ages of two and four to eight.

They found that babies, born after 2007, who received the cooling treatment (therapeutic hypothermia), had much less epilepsy than before it was introduced.

At two years old, 7% of the children had epilepsy and 2% were on antiepileptic medication, rising to 7% on regular medication at four to eight years. However, these are very low numbers needing antiepileptic treatment compared to before cooling treatment was introduced as standard of care. 

Researcher Marianne Thoresen added: 'Cooling treatment also reduces the number and severity of cerebral palsy and increases the number of patients who survive normally.'


Lui X et al (2017) Reduced infancy and childhood epilepsy following hypothermia-treated neonatal encephalopathy. Epilepsia. doi/10.1111/epi.13914/pdf

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