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What New Parents Need to Know About HIE

Baby in incubator with parent touching head

Some birth injuries have visible symptoms. Others are most apparent when the child is older and misses developmental milestones. Of these “invisible” birth injuries, there’s one every expecting family should be mindful of, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy or HIE.

What Is HIE?

Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy can sound intimidating. HIE means that the baby experienced brain damage (encephalopathy) because reduced blood flow (ischemic) prevented them from getting enough oxygen (hypoxic).

What Causes HIE?

HIE is rarely an issue of brain development; it is more often an injury that can be caused by asphyxiation during labor or delivery. Some of the more common causes of HIE include:

  • Failure to timely deliver the baby when there are signs that the baby is distressed

  • Failure to monitor and control the mother’s blood pressure during labor

  • Placental abruption (meaning the placenta detaches from the uterus, cutting the baby off from oxygen)

  • The baby became stuck in the birth canal

  • Administering too much Pitocin (a labor-inducing drug)

What are the Symptoms of HIE?

In mild cases, a child with HIE may not present symptoms until they are older and delay or altogether miss crucial developmental milestones such as walking and talking. In more severe cases, an infant with HIE may experience seizures and organ dysfunction shortly after birth.

As they grow older, children impacted by this birth injury may present with cognitive impairment and poor motor skills, making it much harder for them to perform everyday tasks.

For these reasons, parents whose babies had a difficult birth should watch for warning signs and behaviors consistent with an infant brain injury. If you suspect something is wrong or if your child misses crucial developmental milestones, you should contact an experienced birth injury attorney to discuss your options.

If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced attorney from Faraci Lange, LLP, please don’t hesitate to send us an email or call (888) 997-4110. We’re here to help.