A lack of oxygen, or Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy, is the frequent cause of baby brain damage at birth
A pending matter, my office is working on involves a boy who sustained a brain injury due to the doctors’ delay in performing a c-section. The condition referred to as; hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), also known as perinatal encephalopathy, may result when the brain does not receive enough oxygen (hypoxia). HIE can refer to any brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation, but it often refers to an injury common to newborns that can cause long-term disability and death.
HIE in newborns is caused by injury or complication during birth where the fetus or newborn suffers oxygen deprivation. Causes of HIE include:
- Birth injury
- Perinatal asphyxia
- Delivery complications with delayed delivery
- Umbilical cord wrapped around neck of infant
- Trauma to the brain during delivery process
In the United States, HIE occurs in one to eight of every 1000 births. If HIE is severe, the mortality rate is around 20% with deaths occurring mostly in the first week of life, with 25% of survivors suffering permanent neurological defects. For infants who survive severe HIE, up to 80% of them develop serious complications, 10-20% develop moderate disabilities, and up to 10% have no complications. For infants with moderately severe HIE, 30-50% have serious complications, and 10-20% have minor neurological problems.
Minutes Count When it Comes to Preventing Irreversible Damage
The lack of oxygen occurs to the brain as a whole not just one part of the brain. HIE results in brain injury as a result of oxygen deprivation (hypoxia) and reduced cerebral blood flow. Brain cells require proper circulation to receive oxygen and remain viable. If the brain does not receive proper circulation and oxygen, the cell membranes of brain cells become compromised and the neurons die. Within five minutes of oxygen deprivation, a child may suffer from irreversible brain damage.
The extent of damage depends on how long the brain is without oxygen. Brief oxygen deprivation may cause only minor brain cell injury while longer deprivation can cause damage to more sensitive areas of the brain including the hippocampus (plays an important role in memory).
The damage can cause long-term disability, mental retardation, epilepsy, seizures, learning disability, delayed development, and cerebral palsy.
Diagnosis of HIE usually includes a physical exam along with any of the following tests: CT scan, MRI scan, electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG), blood test, electroencephalogram (EEG), or ultrasound. In cases of severe HIE, treatment involves resuscitation, mechanical ventilation (artificial respiration) to help with breathing, oxygen treatment, medicine to help control seizures, and treatments to help with circulation.
If your child suffered a preventable brain injury from hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) because doctors were negligent in the delivery of your child, you may be entitled to compensation. Please give our Chicago birth injury attorneys a call for free legal consultation today regarding your potential claim. Our legal consultations are always free and confidential. .