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Baltimore Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) Lawyers

Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) is a serious birth injury that happens as the result of the baby being deprived of oxygen and the blood flow to the brain being limited. This can occur before the baby is born or at the time of birth. Sometimes it can be caused in part by the negligence of a medical professional. If you think it’s possible that negligence could be a contributing factor to your baby’s condition, it’s important to call a law office that specializes in birth injury, like Murphy, Falcon & Murphy, to find out what your options are.

Symptoms of HIE

A newborn with Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) may exhibit some or all the following symptoms:

  • Poor muscle tone
  • Blood contains too much acid
  • Meconium in the amniotic fluid at birth
  • Low APGAR score
  • Bluish or pale skin color
  • Slow heart rate
  • Distressed or weak breathing
  • Respiratory problems
  • Feeding Problems
  • Depressed reflexes
  • Seizure Activity

Causes of HIE

Some causes of HIE can occur right before the baby is born, others happen during the birth or soon after. In some cases, the cause of HIE is something that, if treated promptly and properly, wouldn’t necessarily lead to the condition. Potential causes or contributing factors include:

  • Preeclampsia
  • Placenta with circulatory issues
  • Lung malformation
  • Congenital infection
  • Fetal anemia
  • Cardiac disease
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Maternal or gestational diabetes with the presence of vascular disease
  • Low heart rate
  • Excessive bleeding of the placenta
  • Umbilical cord accidents (nuchal cord)
  • Maternal low blood pressure
  • Rupture of the placenta
  • Rupture of the uterus
  • Birth asphyxia
  • Excessively long final stage of labor

Other Terminology

Getting an accurate diagnosis of Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) can be challenging, as many different terms are used in the medical field to refer to this same condition. The first step in determining what caused a baby’s condition is to define what the condition is. Being familiar with the medical terminology used to describe HIE can help. HIE is also referred to or discussed as:

  • Birth asphyxia
  • Perinatal asphyxia
  • Neonatal encephalopathy
  • Fetal oxygen deprivation
  • Oxygen deprivation at birth
  • Baby not breathing at birth

Method of Diagnosis

If Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) is suspected at birth, the doctors and medical personnel in the hospital may immediately perform testing that could include an MRI, diffusion-weighted imaging, or MR spectroscopy.

HIE isn’t always suspected at the time of birth, however. Frequently, it’s only after parents take their baby home that they begin to notice some of the symptoms and report these symptoms to the baby’s pediatrician. In some cases, it’s the pediatrician who first becomes concerned when the baby misses certain developmental milestones, isn’t growing as anticipated, or appears to have motor function that’s impaired.

Treatment for Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)

An experienced neonatologist will be able to determine what, if any, treatment may be effective for a case of HIE. Some options that might be utilized are:

  • Medications or anesthesia to control seizures
  • Procedures to control the baby’s blood pressure or heart function
  • Hyperbaric oxygen treatment if too much carbon monoxide is a contributing factor
  • Reverse the effects of an elevated body temperature by cooling the baby
  • Assist with breathing with mechanical ventilation

Much of the treatment later in life is centered around helping the child and parents adapt to the consequences of the brain injury.

Legal Recourse

Your child will live with the effects of Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) for life. If there’s a chance that this condition is the unintended consequence of a person or facility’s negligence, it’s important to act now to preserve your rights and your child’s rights. A skilled attorney who is well versed in the unique challenges of a birth injury case will be able to assist in an objective investigation of the facts. The attorneys at Murphy, Falcon & Murphy want to help. Call today for a free consultation.