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Doctors test method to cut brain damage in babies
British scientists said on Thursday they would test a new technique to see whether lowering a newborn baby's body temperature reduces serious complications in infants suffering from lack of oxygen at birth.
Up to one in 500 babies suffers from a lack of oxygen at birth, known as asphyxia, which can cause cerebral palsy or even death.
Researchers from Britain's Medical Research Council (MRC) will test more than 200 babies to see whether lowering their temperature a few degrees below normal can make a difference.
The theory is that the human body is able to cope with less oxygen if it is at a cooler temperature.
"The parents of over 200 newborn babies suffering from asphyxia will be asked for their consent for their children to take part in the trial," the MRC said in a statement.
"Half of the babies will have their temperature kept as normal and the other half will have their temperatures cooled."
These babies will be kept at this lower temperature for three days and then be slowly brought back to a normal temperature."
"If the trial shows that this is an effective treatment for asphyxia, we'll be recommending that baby-cooling should be adopted into clinical practice in the National Health Service," said Dr Denis Azzopardi, of Imperial College, London, who will lead the research team.
Results of the trial are not expected before 2008.
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