Understanding Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy

If an unborn baby suffers oxygen loss while in the womb, he or she may develop serious brain injuries as a result, including HIE, or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. Babies born with HIE may suffer brain damage and often go on to experience additional health problems as they grow. Depending on the severity of the brain damage, children may experience a variety of health challenges, and many babies with HIE are also diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Because HIE is caused by an unborn baby’s lack of oxygen, many HIE cases are the result of medical negligence. If your child has HIE and you suspect your doctors, nurses, hospital, or other healthcare professionals may be liable, our firm is here to help. Read below to learn more about HIE, how it is caused, and who may be liable.

What is HIE and How is It Caused?

Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, also known as perinatal asphyxia, birth asphyxia, or neonatal encephalopathy, is a type of brain damage that occurs in newborns who suffered oxygen deprivation and decreased blood flow while in the womb. Before birth, babies require blood flow to the brain to encourage proper development, and the blood must also contain a healthy amount of oxygen to properly supply the brain with what it needs.

If the baby is unable to get appropriate blood flow to the brain, he or she can suffer a brain injury as a result. When the brain is injured, in can result in lasting damage, especially if the brain is deprived of oxygen for an extended period of time. By taking immediate action, doctors, nurses, midwives, and other medical professionals can minimize the brain damage, but cannot reverse it. If the baby’s lack of oxygen is not addressed immediately, the resulting brain injury can be extremely severe, if not deadly.

HIE injuries are may be caused, in part, by the following:

  • High-risk pregnancy
  • Infections in either the mother or baby
  • Medication errors
  • Neonatal conditions
  • Placental rupture or other complications
  • Poor fetal heart monitoring, or lack of monitoring
  • Preeclampsia
  • Premature birth
  • Prolonged or strenuous labor
  • Umbilical cord issues
  • Uterine rupture or other complications

Children with HIE often experience developmental delays, feeding problems, trouble breathing, seizure, low muscle tone, and other issues. Depending on the severity of the brain damage, some children with HIE may require extensive medical attention, including ongoing physical therapy, developmental therapy, and more.

Let Our Firm Help You

At Cullan & Cullan, our doctor-lawyers know precisely what it takes to build a solid birth injury case. Our nationally recognized firm has handled countless birth injury cases involving serious conditions like HIE, and we’ve obtained record-setting verdicts on behalf of our injured clients and their families. We understand how difficult it is to cope with the news that your child suffered a birth injury, which is why we’re here to help.

Contact Cullan & Cullan today and request a free consultation with our attorneys.
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