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Characterization of Death in Neonatal Encephalopathy in the Hypothermia Era

  • Author(s): Lemmon, ME
  • Boss, RD
  • Bonifacio, SL
  • Foster-Barber, A
  • Barkovich, AJ
  • Glass, HC
  • et al.
Abstract

This study aimed to characterize the circumstances of death in encephalopathic neonates treated with therapeutic hypothermia. Patients who died after or during treatment with therapeutic hypothermia between 2007-2014 were identified. Patient circumstance of death was characterized using an established paradigm. Thirty-one of 229 patients died (14%) at a median of 3 days of life. Most who died were severely encephalopathic on examination (90%) and had severely abnormal electroencephalographic (EEG) findings (87%). All those who had magnetic resonance images (n = 13) had evidence of moderate-severe brain injury; 6 had near-total brain injury. Cooling was discontinued prematurely in 61% of patients. Most patients (90%) were physiologically stable at the time of death; 81% died following elective extubation for quality of life considerations. Three patients (10%) died following withholding or removal of artificial hydration and nutrition. Characterization of death in additional cohorts is needed to identify differences in decision making practices over time and between centers.

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