Hypoxic Ischalmic Encephalopathy or HIE for short is the brain injury Aiden suffered at birth. This means Aiden’s brain was starved of oxygen.
A newborn’s body can compensate for brief periods of depleted oxygen, but if the asphyxia lasts too long, brain tissue is destroyed.
The results from this type of brain injury can include epilepsy, developmental delay, motor impairment, neurodevelopmental delay, and cognitive impairment. Usually, the severity of impairment cannot be determined until a child is 2 years plus, but there will be indicators before this age, such as not being able to meet milestones.
For Aiden, although his original prognosis was good he has begun to fall behind and is not meeting his milestones, at 14 months old he cannot sit unaided, crawl or walk. He is able to roll over and can make his will known very well non-verbally. He has the biggest and brightest smile and laugh and can easily melt your heart.
There is no cure for HIE, brain tissue begins to die within 24 hours so the window of opportunity to attempt to reduce this is very small. There is a technique can very commonly used to help infants born like Aiden, they are wrapped in an ice blanket which reduces the body’s core temperature down to 33.5 degrees which can help stop the spread of brain damage. For us, Aiden was quickly assessed and passively cooled at our birth hospital before being transferred to a level 3 hospital, Addenbrookes in Cambridge and being actively cooled. Babies are cooled for 72 hours before being slowly warmed up to normal temperature. The rewarming posses its own risks as seizures can occur.
At 10 weeks old Aiden was asked to go back to Addenbrooks to meet Paddington Bear, Paddington Bear is the mascot of Action Medical Research who funded the wonderful Dr. Topun Austin’s research which helped to save Aiden. We initially thought we would be answering some questions for local media, this turned out to be BBC News, so Aiden was famous. The clip below is from our interview, it should be noted that Aiden was not the first baby to be saved using this technique. We allowed Aiden to be involved in a research grant which visualised cranial blood flow and oxygen levels in the brain (the BBC seem to have got this confused and claimed Aiden was the first full term baby actively being cooled). We thought the story was to be about seizure research and to wear the little black cap with wires (as seen in the video), Aiden was the first full term baby to be cooled and take part in the seizure research wearing the little black cap.