Therapeutic Hypothermia for Treatment of Neonatal Encephalopathy

Current Research and Nursing Care

Carmen K. Cederholm, BSN, RN, CCRN; C. Michael Cotten, MD, MHS


NAINR. 2014;14(2):77-81. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Neonatal encephalopathy, a condition resulting from perinatal asphyxia, occurs in 2.0–6.0 of every 1000 live births. Without treatment, prognosis is poor and resulting complications such as intellectual delay and cerebral palsy are often severe. Therapeutic hypothermia has emerged as an effective treatment for neonatal encephalopathy. Now, research is aimed at determining prognosis after encephalopathy and therapeutic hypothermia. Additionally, nurses play a large role in the identification and care of infants receiving therapeutic hypothermia and their families.


Neonatal encephalopathy (NE) is a condition that often results in serious health consequences including death, cerebral palsy, developmental delay, and seizure disorder.[1] The incidence ranges from 2.0 to 6.0 per 1000 live births, with higher incidence in poorer countries.[1] Therapeutic hypothermia (TH) has become the gold standard in treatment of NE due to its effectiveness in preventing death and major disability during the neonatal period. This paper aims to discuss the pathophysiology of NE, review current literature, and discuss nursing care of the cooled infant.