by Cassandra R. Elias
A pregnant woman "on ice"? Yes, indeed. A 33-year-old mom who was 20 weeks pregnant, suffered cardiac arrest while at a church gathering. She was resuscitated, therapeutically cooled, kept at 90 degrees for 12 hours and re-warmed. While she was being cooled, the fetus was monitored, who experienced fetal shivering which stopped once the mother was re-warmed.
The woman was cooled after her cardiac arrest to reduce the risk of devastating injuries caused by the lack of blood in her tissues, like the muscles and brain -- damage that could potentially kill her. Doctors know that therapeutic cooling works, but few have tried to cool down a pregnant woman before, so they weren't sure how this incredible shock to her system would impact the baby.
Dr. Aakash Chauhan of Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA. said, "We have over 2 years of clinical follow-up of the mother and child and both are doing well, with the child exhibiting normal developmental growth at long-term follow-up. The mother and child both had great outcomes despite an incredibly harrowing episode during her pregnancy."
Doctors evaluated the boy at 1-, 2-, 3-, 6-, 12- and 36-months-old and found has reached all the normal development milestones.
"We would not normally treat a rare cardiac arrest pregnant patient with hypothermia because hypothermia was untested in this population and therefore considered too risky for the fetus," said Naseer Nasser MD, the cardiologist who directed her care at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Indiana. He continued, "However, without the recently proven benefit of hypothermia for cardiac arrest, mother and child would not have benefited from this lifesaving advance."
Have you ever heard of therapeutic hypothermia before? How do you feel about what these doctors did to save both lives?