Whole body cooling reduces brain damage from oxygen deprivation during birth and can lessen death and disability rates for these infants. A study of the use of hypothermia therapy (reduced body temperature) for babies with a gestational age of 36 weeks or more and who had severe asphyxia during birth was performed. Infants were randomly assigned to normothermia or hypothermia, and neurodevelopmental outcomes were assessed at 18 to 22 months of age. Without hypothermia, infants with severe encephalopathy have a 60% chance of death and those that survive are handicapped. Reductions in brain temperature provide neuroprotection when assessed in animal experiments. The use of whole body cooling initiated within 6 hours of a birth and continued for 72 hours was studied. The results showed a decrease in death from 62% to 44% with hypothermia. The incidence of disabling cerebral palsy decreased from 30% to 19%.