Any time the brain is deprived of oxygen, there is a chance that brain cells could be injured. While some are able to recover, others will die off. There are many causes of oxygen deprivation to the brain, including low levels of oxygen and/or reduced flow to this part of the body. This can happen to people of any age, but it is particularly worrisome in infants during the birthing process.
Known as Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy or HIE, there are two stages of injury. The first stage happens immediately following the loss of oxygen. The second occurs as normal oxygenated blood flow is restored to the brain. This is known as reperfusion injury, as toxins are released from damaged cells at this point.
There are many causes of Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy, including but not limited to: maternal blood clotting, uterine rupture, placental abruption, cord compression, trauma during delivery, cord prolapse, and cardiac arrest.
There are many tools for diagnosing Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy in a newborn. For example, the Sarnat Scale is based on how the baby appears after delivery. Along with this, MRI, ultrasound, and EEG can also be used to diagnose the condition.
There are times when Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy is caused by a mistake by a medical professional. This is why it’s important for expecting parents to carefully choose their doctor and hospital. Even so, this is no guarantee that this issue won’t move to the forefront.
If your baby is diagnosed with Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy, it’s important to take him or her to a specialist to decide on a plan of action.
Source: Hope for HIE, “What is HIE?,” accessed May 12, 2016