Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy Birth Injuries in New Jersey
NJ Birth Injury Attorneys for Infant Brain Damage
Among birth injuries, birth asphyxia and resulting hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) are among the most severe and life-threatening. In fact, birth asphyxia causes 840,000, or 23 percent, of all neonatal deaths worldwide. In order to prevent hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, obstetricians and other medical professionals must diligently monitor mothers and babies before, during, and after delivery and take immediate measures to alleviate oxygen deprivation once detected. Recognizing risk factors for birth injuries and taking appropriate precautions is also essential. Failure to do so can result in devastating consequences and may constitute medical malpractice. If your baby was diagnosed with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy in New Jersey, it is vital to understand your legal options if medical errors may have caused your child harm. At Fronzuto Law Group, our team of experienced New Jersey birth injury lawyers aggressively advocate for victims who suffer brain damage during birth to obtain the compensation you and your family deserve. If you have questions birth injuries like hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, we are here for you. Simply call us today at 973-435-4551 or fill out our online form to arrange a free case evaluation.
What is hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)?
Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, or HIE, is a type of brain injury resulting from lack of oxygen to the brain. This condition, also known as intrapartum or perinatal asphyxia, can result in severe brain damage and permanent cognitive deficiencies, development delays, difficulties with movement and mobility, epilepsy, and Cerebral Palsy. In fact, HIE is responsible for approximately 20 percent of all cases of Cerebral Palsy. The underlying cause of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy is birth asphyxia, which manifests as limited oxygen supply during or near delivery.
What are the possible causes of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy?
There are a variety of potential causes that may lead to birth asphyxia and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. The leading cause of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy in full-term infants is intrauterine asphyxia resulting from circulatory problems, such as clotting of placental arteries or placental abruption. Other causes of HIE include:
- Maternal health conditions such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, cardiovascular disease, infection, or very low blood pressure.
- Fetal conditions including anemia, low blood pressure, lung abnormalities, abnormal position/presentation, or congenital brain development problems.
- Delivery-related errors and issues: umbilical cord complications, prolonged labor, premature delivery, brain or skull trauma (during natural birth or assisted deliveries using forceps or vacuum extraction)
What are the symptoms of HIE and Birth Asphyxia?
Typically, doctors can confirm a diagnosis of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy with diagnostic imaging tests such as MRI’s and CT scans. If there was a traumatic birth or the infant needed to be resuscitated after birth, this should be an initial indicator of the possibility of birth asphyxia. In order to identifying the potential presence of HIE, doctors must recognize risk factors and symptoms of HIE. Notably, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy occurs on a spectrum, with three levels: mild, moderate, and severe. Some of the symptoms of HIE include:
- Organ dysfunction affecting the lungs, heart, kidneys, or liver
- Meconium in the amniotic fluid
- High levels of acid in the blood (can be assessed through an umbilical artery blood sample)
- Low muscle tone (hypotonia)
- Difficulty breathing
Some symptoms may not be evident until the child is several years old, at which time parents may notice difficulty with motor skills, speech problems, or developmental delays.
Can hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy be treated?
In recent years, the medical community has developed a new treatment for HIE called cooling therapy, or hypothermia therapy. This highly innovative treatment cools the brain to approximately 33° Celsius for a period of three days after birth. The results of hypothermia therapy are astounding, in that it is the only treatment shown to reduce brain damage in infants with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. However, this medical intervention must be implemented immediately. While brain cooling can be highly effective in preventing future neurological conditions such as Cerebral Palsy, doctors must begin the treatment within 6 hours of initial oxygen deprivation. Essentially, HIE symptoms must be recognized and a diagnosis made as soon as possible. There are other treatments available for HIE, including ventilation and medications to control seizures, blood pressure, etc. Doctors should develop an appropriate treatment plan based on the specific degree of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy and the symptoms associated with the individual case.
Child Diagnosed with HIE in New Jersey?
If your child suffers from hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy due to a birth injury or medical malpractice during the delivery process, the highly experienced New Jersey birth injury lawyers at Fronzuto Law Group can help. To discuss your case and learn more about your legal options, contact our North Jersey offices at 973-435-4551 today. We provide consultations at no cost to you.
For additional information about Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy, access the following resource: Medscape, Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy