We are Chicago lawyers who help people find the right attorney for their situation. Since 2001 we have helped over 500,000 people and would be happy to talk with you for free about your legal situation.

As part of our service, we educate the public on various injuries that can lead to lawsuits. One common one is Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy.

What is Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy?

Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy, or HIE, is very serious type of infant brain damage that occurs during childbirth. The damage is caused when the baby is deprived of both oxygen and blood flow during childbirth or immediately after. Brain cells in the baby die within minutes when they are cut off from oxygen and blood.

Hypoxia = the supply of oxygen isn’t sufficient

Ischemic = the supply of blood isn’t sufficient

Encephalopathy = damage or disease that affects the brain

What causes HIE?

There are a number of causes of HIE. It can develop during pregnancy, during labor and delivery or in postnatal period, but here we will focus on causes of HIE during labor and delivery. They include:

  • Problems with the umbilical cord
  • Extremely low blood pressure in the mother
  • Excessive bleeding from the placenta
  • Abruption of the placenta or rupture of the uterus
  • Baby in breech or other abnormal fetal position
  • Prolonged late stages of labor

What are the symptoms of HIE? How is it diagnosed?

The symptoms of HIE vary based on how severe the injury is, as well as which area(s) of the brain were affected. A baby with HIE may have:

  • Seizures or abnormal movements
  • Feeding problems because muscles in their mouth and throat are weak
  • A weak cry
  • Organ disfunction of the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys
  • Little to no reactions to sights and sounds; or conversely, stronger, more tense reactions to sights and sounds than a healthy newborn

To confirm an HIE diagnosis, a neurologist will examine your baby. An electroencephalogram will monitor your baby for seizures and signs of brain disfunction. Tests, such as an MRI, will check for signs of brain injury. You will meet with the medical team to review the results of the tests and plan for therapies, future care, etc.

What happens next?

If your baby was diagnosed with an HIE, and has passed away or suffered permanent brain damage, it may be a case of doctor negligence or medical malpractice during your labor and delivery. You may be entitled to compensation to pay for your baby’s medical bills and future medical care.  The first step is to find the right firm and have them review the medical records to see if they can prove negligence occurred. Often these cases are worth tens of millions of dollars because a lifetime of care will be needed. We have had success with these cases and would be happy to help you find the best law firm for your case. To discuss this confidentially with a licensed attorney, fill out our online contact form or call us at 800-517-1614.