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Is HIE a serious brain injury for a baby?

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2015 | Birth Injuries

Birth injuries can happen for a multitude of reasons with results that can lead to major problems and the need for long-term care. Parents in the Newton area who are expecting a child place their trust in the medical professionals in charge of the birth. When there is a mistake, it’s important that they understand how and why it happened. One issue that can happen during birth is hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).

Also referred to as perinatal asphyxia, HIE is a brain injury that happens to a newborn when he or she suffers from lack of oxygen. Around the world, this accounts for nearly one-quarter of newborn deaths. It is caused by hypoxemia, which is low oxygen in the blood or a reduction in blood flow to the brain. The effects of this issue can be mild, moderate or severe.

With mild HIE, the baby might have increased muscle tone, have problems feeding, be irritable, cry excessively and have trouble sleeping. When the problem is mild, it generally will resolve itself within the first 24 hours after birth. Moderate HIE will show itself with the baby acting lethargically, having a weak or absent sucking reflex, having apnea and experiencing seizures within the first 24 hours after being born. If the issue is moderate, the baby might recover within one to two weeks.

If HIE is severe, there can be extended seizures and the baby might be in a stupor or coma and won’t respond to physical stimuli. Furthermore, the baby could have other problems, like irregular breathing, the absence of neonatal reflexes, ocular motion disturbances and dilated pupils. Moreover, the heart rate and blood pressure could also be irregular and the baby might die from failure of the cardiorespiratory system.

Parents who are preparing for the birth of a baby are undoubtedly excited over the future. However, there are numerous birth injuries that can occur causing serious injury to the baby and making it necessary to secure long-term care. With a brain injury such as HIE, the aftereffects can be terrible for the parents and child. It can even lead to fatality. If a baby is diagnosed with or suspected as having HIE, a medical error might have been to blame. The parents may want to discuss the matter with a lawyer experienced in cases involving birth injuries.

Source:, “Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy,” Santina A. Zanelli, accessed on Apr. 28, 2015