Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) is a type of brain damage that happens when a baby’s brain doesn’t receive enough oxygen and blood. This dangerous condition affects 20 out of every 1,000 full term births and 60 percent of premature births according to the Neonatal Neurologic Network. HIE relates to the perinatal period, which is just before and just after birth. It’s a leading cause of severe impairments among newborns and a leading cause of infant fatalities.
Symptoms and Effects of HIE
The symptoms of HIE include low heart rate, weak breathing, bluish skin color, meconium-stained amniotic fluid and excessive acid in the blood. The tests used to confirm HIE include ultrasound, echocardiography, CT scan and MRI scan. Patients having HIE categorize as mild, moderate or severe. Depending on the degree of HII, babies may have epilepsy, developmental delays, cognitive problems, motor development delays and neurodevelopmental delays. Often, the full effect of HIE isn’t known until the baby reaches about three years of age.
Effects of HIE may include developmental delays, epilepsy, cognitive issues, motor skill development delays, and neurodevelopment delays. Mental retardation, cerebral palsy and epilepsy can result with HIE. The true severity of HIE generally isn’t determined until the baby reaches three to four years of age. Generally, the effects for those babies with mild symptoms can live a healthy and normal life, but those with severe symptoms have ongoing painful problems and a shortened lifespan. HIE can also HIE can also occur during labor and delivery. Complications include excessive bleeding from the placenta, abnormal fetal position, umbilical cord accidents and ruptured placenta or uterus. During the postpartum period, HIE can cause brain trauma, infections, pulmonary disease and cardiac disease. Medical treatment options for HIE include mechanical ventilation, hyperbaric oxygen treatment, medications to control seizures and treatments to assist heart function and blood pressure.
Medical Negligence and HIE
With proper prenatal care, the chances of HIE are greatly reduced. However, medical negligence may be responsible for causing HIE and resulting damages. There are definite warning signs of HIE. Signs of poor fetal blood flow, low blood pressure in the mother, prolapsed umbilical cord, placental abruption and maternal diabetes indicate warning signs. Tools like MR spectroscopy, diffusion-weighted imaging and MRIs can reveal symptoms of HIE prior to delivery. Each of the warning signs warrants a distinctive medical protocol. Failure to follow proper protocol may indicate medical negligence and attending health care personnel can be liable.
When To Speak Up About a Birth Injury
Often, parents of a child who suffered an HIE injury feel that something went wrong in their medical care. Babies may have seizures and toddlers may have difficulty with motor skills, cognitive skills and speech. It’s important to recall the details of your birth. Did you have excessive bleeding during delivery? Did your infant have trouble breathing or discoloration? Was your infant in the neonatal intensive care unit or require extra time in the hospital? Did medical staff avoid directly answering any questions about complications? Did your child have any unusual results from an ultrasound or MRI? If your child is exhibiting symptoms that something is wrong, it’s important to get medical attention. This may be the point to speak about any concerns that your child’s symptoms may be birth injury-related.
Be sure to get all of your baby’s medical records, including MRIs or ultrasounds. Ask for your pediatrician’s diagnosis in writing. Write down names and descriptions of all medical staff who had contact with you and your infant in the hospital.
Getting Advice from an Attorney
If you do mention your concerns of a birth-related injury to the hospital staff, it’s likely that the medical staff or the hospital will send a hospital representative or a legal representative from the doctor’s insurance company to speak to you. You really need to be careful of what you say, as these people will attempt to mitigate liability. The best course of action to take is to speak with an experienced birth injury law firm. An attorney will advocate for both you and your child to ensure that your child gets the proper care and compensation if there was negligence. Give us a call and let our experienced birth injury attorneys advocate for you.