Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a condition in which the brain does not receive enough oxygen. There are a variety of causes of HIE. Any injury and many health conditions can potentially cause oxygen deprivation to the brain. Most often, however, HIE is sustained by newborns during a birth injury or complication. While most of HIE's victims are infants, HIE is used to describe any brain injury that occurs from oxygen deprivation.

What are the dangers of HIE?

Within as little as five minutes of oxygen deprivation brain cells begin to die; causing serious and often fatal injuries. Lack of oxygen frequently damages not only the brain, but other organs as well. Symptoms and consequences of HIE, may include:

  • Heart damage
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Stomach and digestive problems often causing abnormal feeding with infants
  • Impaired muscle function
  • Impaired control of breathing often requiring ventilation
  • Delayed development
  • Seizures
  • Cerebral palsy

Unfortunately, many babies will not survive these injuries and HIE often proves fatal. Those who survive but suffer a permanent brain injury may be diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Not all HIE cases result in cerebral palsy; a child may suffer a serious brain injury and not be diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The diagnosis will depend on the location and extent of the brain injury. Regardless of the diagnosis, brain injuries that occur during child birth are serious and will permanently affect the child.

Recovering after HIE

Unfortunately, HIE can often be avoided. If your child suffered a birth injury, it may have been due to medical negligence on the part of the hospital, doctor or other health care professional. Careful examination of medical records by a well-qualified professional may reveal the causes of your child's brain injury.

If your family is suffering as a result of an injury to a child during birth, you deserve to find out what happened. If the injury was caused by medical malpractice, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. The permanent n ature of these injuries seriously impacts your family financially. Contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney in your area to discuss your case. Every birth injury case is unique, and only after discussing your situation with an attorney will you understand your legal position.