What caused my child's hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)?

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is often associated with medical mistakes and malpractice, so it is wise to call a birth injury attorney as soon as possible after the diagnosis. They will review the case records and consult with experts to determine if negligence caused your baby’s HIE.

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) lawyers discuss medical malpractice

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), also known as birth asphyxia, is a serious brain injury that may occur during labor and delivery when a baby is deprived of oxygen (1). Oxygen deprivation causes cells and tissues within the body, especially in the brain, to die, resulting in permanent injury. When the oxygen deprivation is significant, the amount of injury to the brain results in serious, permanent disabilities such as cerebral palsy, intellectual/developmental disabilities, and seizures.

During pregnancy, oxygen-rich blood travels from the mother through the placenta and then to the baby through a vein in the umbilical cord. Blood vessels that run between the uterus (womb) and placenta act in a manner similar to the lungs, and gas exchange takes place in these vessels.

Anything that affects the flow of oxygenated blood from mother to baby can impact the baby’s oxygenation. Thus, if the mother’s blood pressure drops or there are problems with the uterus, placenta, or umbilical cord, the baby may experience birth asphyxia. In certain cases, such as a complete placental abruption or umbilical cord compression, the baby can be completely deprived of oxygen-rich blood and will then have to rely on fetal reserves. Instances such as these are obstetrical emergencies, and the baby must be delivered right away before the oxygen deprivation starts to cause brain injury.

Birth asphyxia can be caused by complications that occur during the antepartum, intrapartum, and/or postpartum period (2) although they usually occur in labor and delivery. Listed below are some common causes of birth asphyxia (3):

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) lawyers

At ABC Law Centers (Reiter & Walsh, P.C.), we have extensive experience handling birth injury cases involving hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). Attorney Jesse Reiter, president of ABC Law Centers, has been focusing solely on birth injury cases for over three decades, and most of his cases involve hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and cerebral palsy. Partners Jesse Reiter and Rebecca Walsh have been recognized in Best Lawyers in America, which also recognized ABC Law Centers in Best Law Firms. The attorneys at ABC Law Centers have won numerous awards for their advocacy of children and are members of the Birth Trauma Litigation Group (BTLG) and the Michigan Association for Justice (MAJ). Reiter served as past chair of the BTLG, and Walsh currently serves as co-chair.

Contact our birth injury attorneys and legal nurses in any of the following ways with any questions you may have. We do not charge any fees for our legal processes unless we win!

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Related Resources

Video: Attorneys Discuss Birth Asphyxia & HIE

In this video, Michigan hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) lawyers Jesse Reiter and Rebecca Walsh discuss the causes of HIE, including negligence by the medical team.


  1. Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE): Legal Help for Birth Injuries. (2019, October 16). Retrieved October 10, 2020, from https://www.abclawcenters.com/practice-areas/prenatal-birth-injuries/fetus-or-newborn-medical-problems/hypoxic-ischemic-encephalopathy/
  2. Perinatal Asphyxia. Nephrology and Fluid/Electrolyte Physiology: Neonatology Questions and Controversies (Second Edition), 2012. (n.d.). Retrieved October 10, 2020, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/perinatal-asphyxia
  3. Reiter, J. (2019, July 03). What Causes Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)? Retrieved October 10, 2020, from https://www.abclawcenters.com/frequently-asked-questions/what-causes-hypoxic-ischemic-encephalopathy/