Background: The 2007 Cochrane review of therapeutic hypothermia for neonatal encephalopathy (NE) indicates a significant reduction in adverse outcome. UK National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidelines are awaited.
Objective: To benchmark current opinion and practice to inform future strategies for optimal knowledge transfer for therapeutic hypothermia.
Methods: A web based questionnaire (30 sections related to opinion and practice of management of NE) sent to the clinical leads of Level I, II and III neonatal units throughout the UK in November/December 2007.
Results: One hundred and twenty-five (out of 195) UK neonatal units responded (response rate 66%). Ten percent, 37.5% and 51.5% responses were from level I, II and III units respectively. Twenty eight percent of all units provided therapeutic hypothermia locally (52% of level III units), however 80% of responders would offer therapeutic hypothermia if there was the facility. Overall, 57% of responders considered therapeutic hypothermia effective or very effective – similar for all unit levels; 43% considered more data are required. Regional availability of therapeutic hypothermia exists in 55% of units and 41% of units offer transfer to a regional centre for therapeutic hypothermia.
Conclusion: In the UK in 2007, access to therapeutic hypothermia was widespread although not universal. More than half of responders considered therapeutic hypothermia effective. Fifty-five percent of perinatal networks have the facility to offer therapeutic hypothermia. The involvement of national bodies may be necessary to ensure the adoption of therapeutic hypothermia according to defined protocols and standards; registration is important and will help ensure universal neurodevelopmental follow up.