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What is HIE? – Birth Asphyxia (Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy)


“What is HIE?” “What is birth asphyxia?” Great questions, we’ll spend some time answering that for you today.


Learn More:

What is Birth Injury? – Birth Injury Overview

Vacuum Extraction Birth Injury – Suction Device Injuries

How To Find A Good Medical Malpractice Attorney (And How To Choose The Right One)


Video Transcript


0:00 Intro
0:24 What is HIE?
1:17 Birth Asphyxia
2:34 Effects of HIE

Hey everyone, it’s Dr. Francois Blaudeau, OB/GYN doctor in Birmingham, AL, and a lawyer who tries cases involving birth injury. 

0:24 What is HIE?

I’m a physician attorney with LawMD to talk to you about what’s called HIE, or hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. That’s a really fancy term for a kind of birth asphyxia.

What all that means is that during the course of labor or at the time of delivery, the baby suffered a decreased amount of oxygen flowing to the baby’s brain.

A newborn’s brain is susceptible to decreased oxygen. There are parts of the brain that suffer or become what we call ischemic, meaning they’re not getting enough oxygen. They are starting the process of dying cellular death, and that’s a process that occurs over time. There are certain parts of the baby’s brain that are more susceptible to these decreased levels of oxygen. Oftentimes, MRI scanning over time will show the actual damage to those areas of the brain.

1:17 Birth Asphyxia

These types of injuries can progress to cause cerebral palsy and can cause significant and permanent lifelong injury to a baby. Sometimes, these can include issues with brain injury to the point that the baby can’t swallow or can’t perform a certain function, and can cause weakness,  loss of use, and paralysis. These types of birth injuries can be very significant.

Typically during the course of labor, physicians and nurses have methods which can track the baby, monitor the baby, and make assessments of how well the baby is doing in regards to the oxygenation of the baby. There are certain patterns on monitors that suggest that the baby may not be doing well. If the staff doesn’t respond to the indicators or leaves the baby in distress for too long of a period of time, then the baby could suffer a birth injury.

2:34 Effects of HIE

Typically with birth injuries, if there’s a suspicion that an injury has occurred or that there hasn’t been enough oxygen flow to the brain, hospitals and physicians will put the babies in what they call cooling treatment where they actually try to drop the baby’s temperature. You may have heard stories about a child falling through the ice, and then being resuscitated when you would normally think they wouldn’t be able to be resuscitated.

Sometimes cooling the brain, cooling the temperature of the baby can help decrease some of the damage done to the brain’s cells from decreased oxygen.

If you have a baby born that had a significant injury from a hypoxic event, our physician attorneys will be glad to look at the records and help you determine whether or not there was an avoidable issue, sometimes it’s not. There are plenty of times where there are signs and symptoms to suggest that the baby might be experiencing a decreased amount of oxygen and that the medical team doesn’t respond quickly enough or doesn’t follow the standard of care and that can lead to a bad outcome, and these are always very sad stories.

Hopefully, you won’t have that issue, but if you do and you want to know more about it or you want some help in trying to assess it, please call the physician lawyers at LawMD or click on the link below. We’ll be glad to help you evaluate what happened and try to help you if we can. Thank you.



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