What is Hypo-Ischemic Encephalopathy?

Hypo-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a medical condition which occurs when an infant suffers from asphyxia (lack of oxygen) during birth.  The lack of oxygen causes HIE, which can lead to serious medical problems, including brain damage.  HIE is rare and only occurs in one to four out of 1,000 births in the United States.  However, HIE is responsible for 23 percent, or 840,000 infants, of newborn deaths throughout the world each year.

Can HIE Cause Permanent Injuries?

Yes.  The severity of HIE often depends upon how long an infant was deprived of oxygen during labor.  In mild cases, HIE can lead to learning disabilities and some developmental delays.  However, moderate to severe cases can lead to life-long injuries including epilepsy, permanent brain damage, mental retardation, vision problems and cerebral palsy.  In some cases, the condition can be fatal.

How is HIE Caused?

HIE is caused when a baby does not receive enough oxygen during labor.  For instance, the baby’s umbilical cord may become compressed, or the umbilical cord may become rapped around the infant’s neck, resulting in asphyxia.  Shoulder dystocia can also lead to asphyxia, a situation in which a baby gets stuff in the birth canal and becomes difficult to deliver. Moreover, lack of oxygen can be caused by a rupture in the placenta or the mother’s uterus.  Such birth complications can lead to HIE and result in a permanent injury or disability.  Therefore, it is important for doctors to recognize which newborns may be at risk of asphyxia during childbirth.  Furthermore, doctors, must act quickly to quickly restore oxygen to an infant’s brain during emergency situations.

Can HIE be Prevented?

When a child suffers from asphyxia during a difficult labor, doctors and medical professionals must act as quickly as possible to ensure that the baby is getting enough oxygen.  Failure to do so can result in HIE.  As a result, doctors must know what infants are at risk of asphyxia and take appropriate actions to prevent oxygen deprivation from occurring during labor.  The sooner a doctor acts, the less likely a child will suffer from HIE.

How Gallivan & Gallivan Can Help

If your child suffered from HIE during a difficult birth, Gallivan & Gallivan may be able to help.  In some cases, doctors may have failed to diagnose your child’s asphyxia or may have failed to take appropriate measures to stop or prevent asphyxia from occurring.  We will thoroughly investigate your claim, including examining your child’s medical records before, during and after birth.  If your child’s HIE could have been prevented, we will seek to fully recover compensation from those responsible for your child’s injuries.  HIE injuries can be permanent, and you need an experienced law firm on your side. Contact Gallivan & Gallivan now.

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