Published: Jul 14, 2010 7:40 PM EDT
Updated: Jul 14, 2010 4:37 PM EDT

Four out of every one-thousand babies born in the U.S. suffer some brain damage.  Traditionally doctors could do little to save these babies' brains.  Now doctors are using a blanket not for warmth, but to cool them down.

At birth, complications in the placenta or umbilical cord can deprive babies of oxygen.  This can lead to brain damage, blindness and other developmental problems.  Now University of Florida doctors are using a cooling blanket that has tubes of cool water flowing through it to lower a babies core temperature and potentially prevent more damage.

"What the cooling blanket does is that is decreases the core temperature by three degrees. So the cells in the brain can either live or die, they are sitting on the fence after injury, and what the cooling does is push them towards living rather than dying."

Doctors use the cooling therapy on babies that are less than six hours old and therapy continues for 72 hours. Studies have shown the cooling blanket reduces the disability and death rates in babies born with brain damage.  Doctors say this cooling blanket offers families new hope.  "This technology has really given us something to offer help to parents. In the past with our therapies we really didn't have anything that was specifically to help the brain get better. So really this therapy has given hope for a patient population that was really hopeless in the past."