Publication Date



Translational Pediatrics


Background and Objective

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Therapeutic hypothermia (TH) represents a significant achievement in the translation of scientific research to clinical application, but it is currently the only neuroprotective treatment for HIE. This review aims to revisit the use of TH for HIE and its longitudinal impact on patient outcomes to readers new to the field of HIE. We discuss how emerging therapies address the broader pathophysiology of injury progression in the neonatal brain days to years after HIE.


We included full articles and book chapters published in English on PubMed with references to “hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy”, “birth asphyxia”, “therapeutic hypothermia”, or “neonatal encephalopathy”. We limited our review to outcomes on term infants and to new therapeutics that are in the second phase of clinical trials.

Key Content and Findings

Despite the use of TH for HIE, mortality remains high. Analysis of longitudinal studies reveals a high incidence of ongoing disability even with the implementation of TH. New therapeutics addressing the secondary phase and the less understood tertiary phase of brain injury are in clinical trials as adjunctive treatments to TH to support additional neurological repair and regeneration.


TH successfully improves outcomes after HIE, and it continues to be optimized. Larger studies are needed to understand its use in mild cases of HIE and if certain factors, such as sex, affect long term outcomes. TH primarily acts in the initial phases of injury, while new pharmaceutical therapies target additional injury pathways into the tertiary phases of injury. This may allow for more effective approaches to treatment and improvement of long-term functional outcomes after HIE.


Neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, therapeutic hypothermia, neuroprotection


PMID: 37692539



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