What Is Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)?
Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a type of birth injury caused by of a disruption of blood flow to the baby’s brain, depriving it of oxygen. These injuries are usually caused by poorly-managed delivery complications, such as placental abruption, umbilical cord prolapse, improper use of forceps or vacuum extraction, excessive Pitocin used to induce labor, and other types of birth trauma.
If your child is suffering from any type of medical condition caused by a lack of oxygen at birth, and you suspect that some type of error or negligence may have been involved, do not wait to talk to a Phoenix birth injury lawyer at Cullan & Cullan. Our lawyers are also doctors. With legal and medical degrees, we have an unparalleled understanding of cases involving hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. We can accurately analyze the circumstances surrounding your labor and delivery to see if malpractice was involved.
To get started, call (602) 900-9483 for a free, confidential consultation.
Oxygen Deprivation & Neonatal Brain Damage
A baby deprived of oxygen at birth will suffer irreversible brain damage. The longer the baby is deprived of oxygen the worse the brain injury. A baby should be monitored carefully in the labor and delivery room to ensure that he or she is getting enough oxygen. Loss of oxygen is a medical emergency requiring an immediate C-section delivery to save the baby’s life and minimize the degree of brain injury. Failure to carefully monitor mother and baby can have devastating consequences such as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, perinatal asphyxia, brain hemorrhage, stroke, seizures and other severe impairment or death. More than 25% of babies that survive with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy are left with significant brain damage.
Underlying Causes of HIE
HIE may have various underlying causes and risk factors, including:
- Problems caused by carrying the baby too long (post-maturity)
- Too little amniotic fluid
- Premature rupture of the membranes
- Premature labor and birth
- A prolapsed or compressed umbilical cord
- Too-short cord, knotted cord, or a cord that is wrapped around the baby’s neck
- Prolonged, unproductive labor
- Placenta previa (placenta covering the mother’s cervix)
- Placental abruption (premature separation of the placenta from the uterine wall)
- Rupture of the uterus
- Excessive number or strength of uterine contractions, sometimes caused by Pitocin or other drugs used to induce labor
- Cephalopelvic disproportion (baby’s head is too big to pass through the mother’s pelvis)
- Trauma to the baby’s brain from improper use of forceps or vacuum extractor, causing bleeding and lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain during delivery
- High blood pressure (preeclampsia) or infection in the mother
- Anesthesia errors
- Breech or face-up presentation
- Shoulder dystocia causing a difficult or delayed delivery
Can HIE Be Prevented?
HIE is a birth injury that is usually preventable, as long as the mother receives quality prenatal care, the mother and baby are properly monitored, and the doctor and hospital are prepared to act quickly at the first sign of fetal distress. If the quality of prenatal care was poor, the hospital staff failed to monitor the progress of the labor, or failed to act when the baby indicated signs of distress, this might be evidence of medical malpractice, and the doctor and/or hospital may be held liable for your child’s injuries.
Is My Baby Suffering from HIE?
Your doctor is not likely to admit that a problem with the handing of the delivery caused your baby to suffer from HIE. These are some signs that you, as a parent, may have observed:
- Your baby appeared very blue and needed to be resuscitated
- Your baby was assigned a low APGAR score (used to assess a newborn’s condition, based on reflexes, color, pulse rate, muscle tone, and respiration,)
- Your baby suffered seizures in the first day or two of life
- Your baby had difficulty nursing
- Your baby seemed limp and lacking in muscle tone
Our team can review your medical records. We know what to look for and know when information is missing. We can likely highlight additional indications of HIE.
Consult a Phoenix Birth Injury Lawyer
If your baby suffered a brain injury at birth, not only will it affect his or her quality of life, but it will likely affect the whole family. Your child will probably require a lifetime of special care and expensive treatment. Because you want the best for your child, you need to ensure that you have the financial means to provide the best quality of life possible. If a medical professional or hospital was negligent and caused the injury, you may be able to recover money for your child as compensation for the damages to your and your child’s quality of life and for the medical and other expenses you incurred as a result of the negligent prenatal care or botched delivery.
Make an appointment for a free consultation with one of the skilled and knowledgeable birth injury lawyers at the Phoenix, Arizona, of Cullan & Cullan. We are not only birth injury lawyers, we are also doctors. We have conducted forensic investigations of thousands of birth injury cases. We have record setting verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients. We have the passion, knowledge, and experience that is required to handle these difficult and complex cases.
Call (602) 900-9483 today for a free consultation and review of your potential HIE claim.