Finding out that you are pregnant is one of the most exciting times in life. It can also be a little scary. You might wonder how you will be as a mother or how you will handle life as a father. Then, there’s the natural worry about the birthing process. What will go wrong? How can I make sure my child is safe?

The sad truth is, not every child will be born healthy. In some cases, an act of negligence by a medical professional can lead to a birth injury that has life-long repercussions for your child.

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) occurs when the baby does not receive enough oxygen to his or her brain. This birth injury is considered a dysfunction of the brain that is caused by reduced oxygen to the brain and other organs in the body, as well as low blood flow to the vital organs of the baby. The loss of oxygen to the brain usually occurs either right before the child is born or immediately after birth, which is known as the perinatal period. It is responsible for about 23% of neonatal deaths, globally.

The symptoms of HIE

The symptoms of HIE include the following:

  • Poor muscle tone
  • Low heart rate
  • Pale color of the skin
  • No breathing or weak breathing
  • High levels of acid in the baby’s blood
  • Amniotic fluid that is meconium-stained

A baby who exhibits any of these symptoms will be administered a round of tests that will include a CT scan, ultrasound, MRI and echocardiography. The baby might also be subjected to electroencephalogram and electrocardiogram testing.

How HIE impacts the life of a baby

The impacts that HIE play on the life of a baby depends on the severity of the birth injury. If the oxygen deprivation was discovered and treated quickly and appropriately, the baby many suffer fewer complications or life-long effects. If the condition was not diagnosed and treated quickly, the child may suffer from, among other things:

  • Delays in development of motor skills
  • Epilepsy
  • Delays in neurodevelopment
  • Cognitive issues
  • Death

Doctors are unable to determine the exact severity of HIE and the impact it will have on a child until he or she is three or four years old.

What causes HIE?

There are many possible causes of HIE, all of which can occur prior to childbirth, during childbirth or after childbirth. Medical malpractice is not out of the question. If the doctor caring for the mother failed to recognize the symptoms of HIE in the child, he or she could be held liable for the birth injury. The same goes for if the mother exhibited risk factors for the child developing HIE and was not treated properly. HIE can be caused by any of the following:

  • Cardiac disease
  • Preeclampsia
  • Maternal diabetes
  • Malformations of the lung
  • Bleeding from the placenta excessively
  • An abnormal fetal position
  • Maternal blood pressure that is too low
  • Late stages of labor that are prolonged
  • Severe prematurity of the baby
  • Trauma to the skull or brain
  • Congenital brain malformations
  • Blood pressure of the baby that is very low

If your child has suffered a birth injury, such as hypoxic-ischemic, it’s important to seek legal representation as soon as possible. Call the Charlotte birth injury lawyers of Warren & Kallianos, PLLC at 704-377-7777 or complete the contact form on our website to schedule a consultation today.