Two years ago a 20 weeks pregnant woman went into cardiac arrest and died. She was resuscitated by doctors, and chilled to 90 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 hours before being rewarmed. Nineteen weeks later, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy who is still doing well today.
“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,” study author Aakash Chauhan of Allegheny General Hospital. “The mother and child both had great outcomes despite an incredibly harrowing episode during her pregnancy.”
The woman went into cardiac arrest while at a church gathering. She was given CPR, defibrillated and taken to the ER. At the hospital, her body was cooled to 90 F and was kept at a hypothermic temperature for 12 hours before she was allowed to return to a normal temperature. While she on ice, the doctors monitored her foetus and detected 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 the patient all over again.
Doctors know that this 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.
She survived the treatment, and doctors inserted a cardioverter-defibrillator to keep her heart beating, and released her. The details of her case and follow up information were released in a study in Annals of Emergency Medicine, put online July 3.
“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 foetus,” Dr. Naseer Nasser MD, the cardiologist who directed her care, said in a statement released by the journal.
So, they followed the woman and her child for more than two years to see how they fared. The patient delivered a healthy baby boy 19 weeks later, right on time.
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