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Body cooling

What is body cooling?

Body cooling is a treatment used to help newborns who may have experienced a lack of oxygen during delivery. Lack of oxygen and diminished blood supply to the brain can cause brain injury. This brain injury can be mild, moderate, or severe. Recovery is different for every child. For some infants, body cooling treatment can decrease or eliminate damage caused by the injury.

How does cooling work?

When the brain does not receive a good oxygen supply for a period of time, the body may react in ways that causes swelling of the brain. By lowering the baby's body temperature, the body may respond to the injury more slowly, which can decrease or eliminate possible damage to brain cells.

The baby is placed on a special cooling pad to keep the body's temperature at 92.3° F, or 33.5° C, for 72 hours. Staff specially trained in body cooling will monitor your baby closely throughout the cooling process. After 72 hours, your baby will be slowly warmed to normal temperature.

When is the treatment done?

To be effective, the treatment needs to begin within 6 hours of birth. If your baby is born at a hospital that does not offer cooling treatment, your baby may be quickly transported to begin treatment.

What should I expect during the cooling treatment?

During the cooling treatment, your baby may look pale or slightly blue. Your baby may also feel cool to the touch, and not show
much activity. You may see your baby shiver. Some babies are agitated at first, but often calm down over time.

To keep your baby's temperature consistently low during the 72 hours of treatment, you will not be able to hold your baby during treatment. Your nurse can offer activities that may be comforting to your baby, such as speaking softly, playing soft music, or holding your baby's hand.

What other treatments may be done during cooling?

Your baby will be monitored closely throughout the cooling treatment. Your baby will need to have blood drawn for lab work and an IV placed for fluids. Some babies also need help with breathing. Medication may be given to help your baby stay relaxed and comfortable.

Are there any harmful effects of this cooling treatment?

Some babies have mild symptoms such as lowered blood pressure and heart rate, but severe side effects have not been observed for this cooling treatment.


Ask your nurse or doctor if you have any questions about the body cooling treatment.

Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
2525 Chicago Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Last reviewed 8/2015 ©Copyright

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

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