Treatment Options

Treatment Options

Treatment options will vary depending on the symptoms your baby may have. Doctors will classify your baby’s illness using the following three categories: mild, moderate or severe HIE, because this will determine the treatment that they recommend for your baby.

Most babies with mild HIE recover quickly and fully. If a baby has mild HIE, doctors will monitor the baby to ensure that they do not need any further treatment after the initial lack of oxygen. If a baby is diagnosed as having moderate to severe HIE they will most likely be referred to a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to receive intensive care including a treatment known as mild hypothermia or cooling. This is when a baby’s temperature is lowered to 33.5 degrees Celsius (92 degrees Fahrenheit) from the usual temperature of 37 degrees Celsius (98 .6 degrees Fahrenheit). Until recently there was no specific treatment for HIE other than intensive care support. However, there have been several medical trials that have found that cooling a baby by a few degrees for 72 hours (3 days) can limit the extent of brain injury associated with HIE and improve the long-term outcome for some children.

If a baby is referred for cooling, they will need to be treated in a hospital that has a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and the appropriate cooling and neurological expertise. Some babies will therefore be transferred to a regional NICU for ongoing care. Before going home your baby may often be transferred back to the local unit or the hospital where your baby was born.