PCH hosts special reunion for graduates of cutting-edge therapy

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Graduates of Phoenix Children's Hospital's whole body cooling therapy celebrated Saturday when the hospital hosted its fifth annual reunion for more than 175 families whose kids were deprived of oxygen before or during birth.

This lack of oxygen causes a condition called hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) which affects three of 1,000 full-term live births. HID causes cerebral palsy learning disabilities and epilepsy and can be fatal. Until recently, no treatment for HIE existed, but now, total body cooling offers a safe and effective treatment to help revive newborns.

New statistics reveal the rate of cerebral palsy in this at-risk population of infants would be near 30 percent if there were no treatment options available. The whole-body cooling technology at Phoenix Children's has decreased the risk to only 10 percent.

Phoenix Children's is the only hospital in the state with advanced whole-body cooling equipment to treat newborns who suffer from lack of oxygen before or during birth.  Since 2008, Phoenix Children's has saved 175 babies using the whole body cooling technique. The Neuro/NICU at Phoenix Children's has the capability of 24-hour EEG monitoring. This sets the unit apart from other cooling centers. The unit also has  ongoing monitoring and extensive followup for the patients.

Only the second of its kind in the U.S., the Neuro-NICU, in collaboration with Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children's, gives specialized care to infants who have suffered brain injury at birth.