10 Facts About Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy

Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy occurs when the fetal brain does receive enough oxygen. Often referred to as “HIE,” Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy can lead to permanent brain damage, cerebral palsy, and death. Common factors that cause HIE include umbilical cord entanglement or prolapse, placental abruption and excessive uterine stimulation. To better understand the condition, we’ve listed

10 Facts About Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy:

  1. HIE affects an average of 3-5 newborns out of every 1,000 live births. [1]
  2. Of the 70-80% of cases of cerebral palsy caused by antepartum injury, an average 20% of cases occur because of birth asphyxia. [2]
  3. Whole body hypothermia is one of the methods used to treat infants suffering from hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. [3]
  4. Up to 60% of babies affected by HIE die within the newborn stage. [4]
  5. Of the babies who survive HIE, 25% of them sustain long-term neurological impairments.[5]
  6. HIE is a specific case of neonatal encephalopathy (NE). Not all NE cases are HIE. [6]
  7. The presence of stool in the amniotic fluid (meconium) can be associated with intrapartum stress but it alone does not prove that HIE was caused by events during labor or delivery. [7]
  8. Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy primarily affects the deep gray matter of a baby’s brain when there is profound, near total asphyxia. Intermittent periods of partial asphyxia can cause damage to the cortical, white matter areas. [8]
  9. The types of cerebral palsy that is associated with an event that occurred during labor or delivery typically effect all four limbs (spastic quadriplegia or Dyskinetic cerebral palsy). Other types of cerebral palsy are less likely to be associated with medical negligence.[9]
  10. Babies injured from HIE during the birth process are profoundly depressed at birth with very low APGAR scores at 1, 5 and 10 minutes. Children who first develop or display cognitive or physical deficits as toddlers or in early childhood were not the victims of HIE caused by medical malpractice.[10]

Doctors, obstetricians, and midwives have a responsibility to practice according to the accepted standard of care when managing labor and delivery. This means that they must monitor the tracings of electronic fetal heart monitors for signs of fetal distress. If they fail to do so, the results can be catastrophic. If your baby suffered hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy and sustained serious brain damage, contact our Houston birth injury attorneys for a free consultation.

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[1] Levene MI, Sands C, Grindulis H, et al. Comparison of two methods of predicting outcome in perinatal asphyxia. Lancet1986;1:67–69.

[2] Badawi N, Kurinczuk JJ, Keogh JM, et al. Intrapartum risk factors for newborn encephalopathy: The Western Australian case-control study. BMJ 1998;317:15541558.

[3] Shankaran, Seetha, Abbot R Laptook, Jon E Tyson, Richard A Ehrenkranz, Carla M Bann, Abhik Das, Rosemary D Higgins, Rebecca Bara, Athina Pappas, Scott A McDonald, Ronald N Goldberg, and Michele C Walsh. "Evolution of Encephalopathy During Whole Body Hypothermia for Neonatal Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy." The Journal of Pediatrics, 160.4 (2012): 567-572.e3.

[4] Vannucci RC. Current and potentially new management strategies for perinatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. Pediatrics1990;85:961968.

[5] Vannucci RC. Current and potentially new management strategies for perinatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. Pediatrics1990;85:961968.

[6] Dickey, E.J, S.N Long, and R.W Hunt. "Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy—What Can We Learn from Humans?." Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 25.6 (2011): 1231-1240.

[7] Hayes, BC, C McGarvey, S Mulvany, J Kennedy, MP Geary, TG Matthews, and MD King. "A Case-control Study of Hypoxic-ischemic Encephalopathy in Newborn Infants at > 36 Weeks Gestation." American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 209.1 (2013): 29.e1-29.e19.

[8] Kumar, Sailesh, and Sara Paterson-Brown. "Obstetric Aspects of Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy." Early Human Development, 86.6 (2010): 339-344.

[9]Neonatal Encephalopathy and Neurologic Outcome, 2nd ed., p. 211.

[10] Id.