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Low-cost 'cooling cure' would avert brain damage in oxygen-starved babies
Date:3/21/2013

When babies are deprived of oxygen before birth, brain damage and disorders such as cerebral palsy can occur. Extended cooling can prevent brain injuries, but this treatment is not always available in developing nations where advanced medical care is scarce. To address this need, Johns Hopkins undergraduates have devised a low-tech $40 unit to provide protective cooling in the absence of modern hospital equipment that can cost $12,000.

The device, called the Cooling Cure, aims to lower a newborn's temperature by about 6 degrees F for three days, a treatment that has been shown to protect the child from brain damage if administered shortly after a loss of oxygen has occurred. Common causes of this deficiency are knotting of the umbilical cord or a problem with the mother's placenta during a difficult birth. In developing regions, untrained delivery, anemia and malnutrition during pregnancy can also contribute to oxygen deprivation.

In a recent issue of the journal Medical Devices: Evidence and Research, the biomedical engineering student inventors and their medical advisors reported successful animal testing of the Cooling Cure prototype. The device is made of a clay pot, a plastic-lined burlap basket, sand, instant ice-pack powder, temperature sensors, a microprocessor and two AAA batteries. To activate it, just add water.

The device could help curtail a serious health problem called hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, which is triggered by oxygen deficiency in the brain. Globally, more than half of the newborns with a severe form of this condition die, and many of the survivors are diagnosed with cerebral palsy or other brain disorders. The problem is particularly acute in impoverished regions where pregnant women do not have easy access to medical specialists or high-tech hospital equipment. The inventors say Cooling Cure could address this issue.

"The students came up with a neat device that's easy for non-medical
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Contact: Phil Sneiderman
prs@jhu.edu
443-287-9960
Johns Hopkins University
Source:Eurekalert  

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Low-cost 'cooling cure' would avert brain damage in oxygen-starved babies
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