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April Is HIE Awareness Month

Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy, also known as HIE, is one of the most common brain injuries a child may sustain during the birthing process. Although the name can sound technical and daunting to interpret, an HIE diagnosis simply means that one crucial problem has occurred: The baby’s brain was deprived of oxygen during birth.

At Cullan & Cullan, our birth injury team is committed to helping Phoenix families who have been negatively impacted by an HIE diagnosis. Many serious medical conditions can result from a lack of oxygen during birth, and more than 25% of the children that survive this kind of injury will suffer from brain damage. In this special post, we’ll be discussing the most common causes for this condition – and how you can seek compensation if you’ve suffered losses.

What Causes Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy?HIE Awareness Month

From uterine rupture to high maternal blood pressure, there are dozens of possible ways that a baby can sustain HIE-related brain injuries, both in the uterus and during childbirth itself. “Hypoxia” is the medical term for insufficient levels of oxygen, and if left untreated, HIE can rapidly progress into birth asphyxia and suffocation. Because of the wide degree of variability involved with an HIE injury, there are also many types of disorders and medical conditions that can result.

In general, the most common causes for HIE are the following:

  • A “nuchal” or knotted umbilical cord: When the umbilical cord wraps or knots around the infant’s throat in-utero, it’s often called a “nuchal cord.” While not every case like this can be rectified in time, your surgeon is obligated to try and avoid this from turning into HIE at all costs.
  • Preeclampsia: When a mother’s blood pressure is extremely high (as is the case for at least 1 in 20 pregnant women), it can cause preeclampsia, and put both her life and her baby in serious jeopardy. Doctors must be vigilant to recognize the signs of this condition and prevent HIE.
  • Late-term pregnancy: Once the pregnancy passes beyond 40 weeks, the placental deterioration and lack of amniotic fluid can put babies at higher risk of an HIE injury.
  • Uterine rupture: If the uterus tears open during birth, the baby can lose vital oxygen from the mother’s blood loss, or experience suffocation after the uterus collapses. Doctors must be exceptionally careful in allowing a vaginal birth if there’s a history of past C-sections or uterine surgeries, as this can increase the chance of rupture.
  • Delayed emergency C-sections: Although it can be hard to gauge exactly when a C-section is required, doctors must be able to do so with precision and speed in order to save lives. If the baby is stuck in an oxygen-depriving situation, HIE can all too often be the result.

Important Facts About HIE

Almost 3 out of every 1,000 full-term births in developed countries involve some form of HIE injury. According to one study performed in 2011, up to 60% of all infants affected by HIE either die within the first 2 years or develop cerebral palsy and other serious disabilities. Because oxygen deprivation is a near-constant risk during some pregnancies, doctors should serve as the first line of defense against this condition, by carefully monitoring both the mother and the baby for signs of oxygen loss.

In spite of the prevalence of HIE, many people are unfamiliar with this condition, and how deeply it impacts children and families across the world. To boost awareness and challenge some of the biggest HIE myths, the Hope for HIE organization is hosting “Hope Never Ends,” a global campaign conducted on social media and within local communities. Hope for HIE also offers resources, tools, and outreach groups for affected parents to find support and peace of mind.

Want to get involved with the Hope Never Ends campaign? Read more about the campaign to get started.

Compassionate Counsel for Birth Injury Cases

No matter how your baby acquired an HIE injury, the long-term results can be devastating. From motor and movement disorders to epilepsy and sensory disorders, it can take years of medical treatment and costly therapy to ensure that your child has a relatively normal life. At Cullan & Cullan, we want to help you get the recovery you need after Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy occurs. If you’re not exactly sure what went wrong during the birthing process, our doctor lawyers can review your case and provide the skilled legal counsel you need.

Contact us at (602) 900-9483 today to find out how we can help you seek compensation for your child’s injuries.


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