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Cooling May Not Help Injured Brains in Children
Date:6/4/2008

Experts say it's too soon to judge this therapy for traumatic brain injury,,,,

WEDNESDAY, June 4 (HealthDay News) -- Cooling the brain after a traumatic brain injury may not help improve neurological outcomes and might even increase mortality.

That's the conclusion of a randomized trial of 225 children with brain injuries, but the authors and other experts suspect that by changing the cooling and re-warming protocol, other researchers may have more success with this therapy.

"Our hypothesis was that hypothermia would improve the outcome," said study author Dr. Jamie Hutchison, a critical care physician and director of the acute care research unit at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

"Children were randomized to receive 24 hours of cooling, to 32 degrees Celsius. They had to be enrolled within eight hours of their injury and, after cooling, we re-warmed an average of 0.5 degree Celsius every two hours. To our surprise, we didn't see any benefit," said Hutchison.

He said the study was designed to assess neurological outcomes, and that there was no difference between those who were cooled and those who received standard treatment. Additionally, the researchers saw a trend toward increased mortality in the cooled group. But, Hutchison said, the study wasn't designed to assess mortality and that those findings were not statistically significant.

Results of the study are in the June 5 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Youngsters up to age 4 are among those most likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 435,000 American children visit emergency rooms with traumatic brain injuries each year, and as many as 2,685 children die from traumatic brain injuries in the United States annually, according to the CDC.

Common causes of traumatic brain injuries are motor vehicle accidents, fall
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