Cooling gas to help save babies in Bristol

A gas which cools babies' brains to help prevent injuries is being trialled in Bristol.

Xenon gas will be supplied to babies via a specially-developed machine in ambulances.

The treatment, which was pioneered in the city, is used to help prevent brain injury caused by a lack of oxygen or blood supply at birth.

Babies will be treated while being transported from hospitals to specialist units in Bristol.

Eighty-two babies are taking part in the trial, which will cost around £600,000.

Professor Marianne Thoreson, from neonatal neuroscience at the University of Bristol, said it is a "huge breakthrough" in babies receiving early treatment.

She said the quicker newborn babies are treated with the gas, the more effectively it works.

The professor developed the treatment with Dr John Dingley, consultant anaesthetist at Swansea University's School of Medicine.

Professor Thoreson has pioneered new treatments at the hospital since 1998 when she began cooling babies to reduce damage in the newborn brain.

However, cooling only partly reduces disability and does not prevent it in all babies.

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