The effect of applying brain-orientated neonatal intensive care for term infants with severe neonatal asphyxia was studied. Such treatment included protective phenobarbitone administration together with assisted ventilation and other measures to counteract postasphyxial cerebral oedema and any abrupt changes in blood pressure and oxygenation. The mortality rate and incidence of long-term sequelae were reduced appreciably, resulting in a 0-1 year mortality rate of 14% (previously 50%) and an incidence of neurodevelopmental handicap at 18 months of 17% (previously 50%). It is important in the management of infants with severe asphyxia at birth to avoid blood pressure fluctuations and to control neuronal epileptic activity by the use of barbiturates and early ventilator treatment.
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