What Is Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)?

Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy in MarylandBabies who experience birth injuries often suffer irreversible damage. One of the most detrimental birth injuries that babies can experience is hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, also known as HIE. HIE is a brain injury that newborns can experience during the pregnancy, labor, or postnatal periods. This brain injury is created from limited blood flow and lack of oxygen to the brain.

When newborns do not receive the proper amount of oxygen and blood to the brain, it can cause damage to other organs in the body. If you suspect that your newborn has suffered from HIE, our Maryland birth injury lawyers at Plaxen Adler Muncy, PA can help fight for your compensation.

How does negligence lead to HIE in newborns?

There are multiple health complications that can cause newborns to experience HIE. Some of the complications involve negligent actions like drug and alcohol abuse. Other causes involve severe fetal anemia or issues with blood flow to the placenta.

However, the negligent actions of a doctor or medical professional can also cause newborns to experience HIE. this can include failing to accurately monitor the baby’s heart rate, failing to prevent a premature birth, prolonging labor and delivery for too long, and making mistakes while administering medication.

High-risk pregnancies and HIE

One of the conditions that can increase the possibility of HIE is a high-risk pregnancy. High-risk pregnancies are different from a regular pregnancy in that extra monitoring and possible intervention is required. When doctors or other medical professionals fail to properly monitor women with high-risk pregnancies, they are putting the lives of mother and baby in jeopardy.

HIE and undiagnosed/untreated umbilical cord issues

The umbilical cord is the primary source of oxygen and other nutrients. When the umbilical cord becomes knotted or compressed, the baby’s ability to absorb the necessary oxygen and nutrients is severely compromised. Some dangerous umbilical cord issues that can deprive the newborn from receiving oxygen include the umbilical cord becoming wrapped around the baby’s neck, when the umbilical cord is unusually short and restricts the baby’s movement, and when the umbilical cord becomes infected. When the umbilical cord becomes infected, the blood and oxygen flow can be significantly reduced. A doctor who fails to diagnose and address these issues may be held liable if the baby suffers a birth injury.

What are the symptoms of HIE?

The symptoms of HIE can vary based on the severity of the brain injury and the period in which the brain injury happens. For example, some of the symptoms of HIE in newborns during the delivery stage are an abnormal heart rate, severe maternal cramping, and maternal high blood pressure. During birth, some of the symptoms of HIE are difficulty feeding, breathing problems, organ issues, and an abnormal response to light. During the postnatal period, the symptoms of HIE include delayed development, hearing and visual impairments, impaired motor function, and seizure disorders.

How is HIE diagnosed?

To properly diagnose a newborn with HIE, a neurologist will monitor a newborn using an electroencephalogram for signs of seizures and brain dysfunction. Neurologists may also use additional tests like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to search for additional signs of brain injury. If signs of HIE are present, medical professionals may recommend brain cooling as a way to reduce the possibility of injury. Newborns will be placed on a cooling blanket for three days and administered medicines that will help them rest comfortably. The newborn will then be re-warmed again to their normal body temperature.

What are the long-term effects of HIE?

HIE can cause newborns to experience long-term challenges. Sometimes, the full extent of the brain damage is not apparent until years after the injury has happened. Some may develop cerebral palsy, blindness or severe issues with vision, problems with motor and behavioral development, and problems learning how to speak and think. Keep in mind that the long-term effects of HIE will vary based on the severity of the brain injury. Newborns who are deprived of oxygen for longer amounts of time are more likely to have more severe disabilities.

After your newborn experiences HIE, it is easy to become scared and overwhelmed. At Plaxen Adler Muncy, PA, we ensure that you are never alone. We are by your side every step of the way. To make an appointment with an experienced Maryland birth injury attorney, please call 410-730-7737 or complete our contact form. We have offices throughout the state of Maryland for your convenience.