A large-scale, multi-centre study has shown that emergency body cooling does not improve survival rates or reduce brain injury in infants and children with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest more than normal temperature control.
Therapeutic hypothermia, or whole body cooling, can improve survival and health outcomes for adults after cardiac arrest and also for newborns with brain injury due to a lack of oxygen at birth. But, until now, this treatment has not been studied in infants or children admitted to hospitals with cardiac arrest.
‘Our results show that therapeutic hypothermia is no more effective for treating children after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest than maintaining body temperature within the normal range, ‘ said co-principal investigator Frank W. Moler, M.D., a professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. ‘Both treatments help to control fever and result in similar outcomes for patients.’
More than 6,000 children suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in the United States each year, according to the American Heart Association’s 2015 heart disease and stroke statistics. During cardiac arrest, the heart stops pumping effectively, and blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs. In many cases, the outcome is death or long-term disability.
The study included 295 participants between 2 days and 18 years old who were admitted to children’s hospitals for cardiac arrest, required chest compressions for at least two minutes and remained dependent on mechanical ventilation to breathe.
After their parents or guardians provided consent, children were randomly assigned to one of the two treatment groups. One group received body cooling for two days followed by three days of normal temperature control. Another group received normal temperature control for five days.
During the treatment, study participants lay between special blankets. Pumps circulate water through tubes in the blankets to maintain specific body temperature ranges: either a lower range of 89.6