Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) Information Resources
Welcome to the HIE Help Center’s Resource Section
At Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers, we understand how overwhelming a hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy diagnosis can feel. Families are often left without important answers regarding the cause of their child’s birth injury, without the resources available for rehabilitation, or without the funds necessary to ensure their child’s well-being. While adapting to your new lifestyle will take time and care, we hope the information on this page will serve as a preliminary support system. We created this page to offer an accessible explanation of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), provide details about your legal options and point you in the direction of some valuable HIE resources.
Frequently Asked Questions | Ask Our Michigan HIE Attorneys
For answers to your specific questions about hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), birth injury, our birth injury law firm and medical malpractice litigation, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page. You will find information related to HIE, treatment and therapy for HIE, causes and risk factors for HIE, side effects of HIE, HIE and medical malpractice, and much more.
HIE and Birth Injury Video Library
In the Reiter & Walsh, P.C. online Video Library, you’ll find videos from our attorneys, staff and past clients. Learn about our past medical malpractice cases, our reviews and testimonials, the world of birth injury litigation, medical errors and more.
Researching the many medical, state and community resources related to HIE, cerebral palsy, birth injuries and disabilities can be challenging. Every organization offers different services to children with special needs and their families, and to those families otherwise affected by cerebral palsy, birth injuries, or medical malpractice. To read through our list of national and Michigan birth injury resources, please visit this page.
Our Detroit, Michigan HIE attorneys understand that much of the information discussed throughout this page is best understood in visuals. Learn more about HIE through some of our infographics:
Understanding HIE and Birth Injury Terms
The clinical language used to explain HIE and birth injuries is often so complex and inaccessible that, regrettably, many victims of medical malpractice never feel comfortable reaching out for help or advice from a birth injury attorney. For this reason, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy from medical malpractice is all too often left unaddressed. Below are a few key terms related to hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. For more terms, visit our full birth injury glossary here.
- Acute Profound Asphyxia: A term describing the extent of oxygen deprivation in cases of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). Acute profound asphyxia is the term given to the most severe forms of hypoxic ischemic injuries. Commonly referred to as acute near total asphyxia, this form of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is caused by prolonged, complete periods of fetal oxygen deprivation. Known causes of acute profound asphyxia include emergency pregnancy, labor and delivery complications such as uterine rupture, umbilical cord prolapse, placental abruption and terminal bradycardia.
- Asphyxia: An emergency condition characterized by severe oxygen deprivation – particularly in the womb, causing death, disability or permanent injury.
- Birth Injury: Impairment of an infant’s body function or structure due to an injury that occurred during birth. Birth injuries typically refer to injury caused by a lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain or a brain infection, while birth trauma refers to those injuries caused by mechanical damage.
- Birth Injury Attorney (Birth Trauma Attorney): A medical malpractice attorney that specifically focuses on cases related to birth injuries and birth trauma.
- Birth Trauma: Injuries inflicted on a baby during delivery. Traumatic birth injuries encompass all injuries to a baby’s tissues and organs, as well as their long-term consequence. Birth trauma is usually thought of as being caused by mechanical damage, while the term birth injury typically refers to injury caused by a lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain or a brain infection.
- Birth Asphyxia: A lack of oxygen flow to the brain before, during or directly after birth. Birth asphyxia is very dangerous and can lead to neonatal encephalopathy (NE) and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). Birth asphyxia is another term for intrapartum asphyxia.
- Bradycardia: A slower than average heart beat, with values under 110 BPM. Fetal bradycardia is very serious and can be caused by hypoxia, or it may be the cause of hypoxia. Bradycardias that occur near the end of the second stage of labor can lead to hypoxia if sufficiently prolonged and severe.
- C-Section (Cesarean Section) Delivery: A surgical procedure in which the baby is delivered through an incision in the mother’s abdomen and uterus. C-section deliveries are performed when vaginal delivery poses risks to the mother or child.
- Cerebral Palsy (CP): The umbrella term given to a group of non-progressive motor conditions in which brain damage results in the impairment or loss of movement. Because this permanent neurological disorder results from an injury or malformation of the developing brain, CP is often the result of a birth injury.
- Emergency C-Section: C-section operations that are not scheduled before delivery begins, but performed when complications arise during labor and/or delivery. Delayed emergency C-section operations are instances of medical malpractice that often cause HIE, permanent brain damage, disabilities and birth injuries.
- Encephalopathy: An umbrella term that includes any type of neurological dysfunction. This may include respiratory and feeding problems, depressed reflexes, low or high muscle tone (appearing stiff or floppy), and/or seizure activity.
- Fetal Distress: An obstetrical, labor and delivery complication that occurs when the fetus experiences oxygen deprivation (asphyxia). It is detected by changes in heart rate, decreased fetal movement and abnormal substances in the amniotic fluid. Because fetal distress is an emergency complication, medical professionals must immediately address and manage it to avoid HIE and permanent injury.
- Fetal Heart Monitoring (Electronic Fetal Heart Monitoring): Electronic fetal heart monitoring records the mother’s contractions and the fetus’ heart beats in response to contractions to monitor for fetal distress. The failure to use electronic fetal heart monitoring equipment properly is an act of medical malpractice that can result in hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and permanent injury to the baby.
- HIE: The abbreviated form of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy.
- Hyperstimulation (Uterine Hyperstimulation; Tachysystole): Excessive frequency and strength of uterine contractions, characterized by single contractions that last longer than two minutes or five or more contractions that occur within ten minutes. Hyperstimulation can limit blood flow through the umbilical cord, thereby causing serious fetal oxygen deprivation.
- Hypertonicity: A dangerous labor and delivery complication that occurs when there is no rest between uterine contractions. Excessive uterine contractions, which is known as hyperstimulation or tachysystole, leads to hypertonicity of the uterus. Hypertonicity interferes with the passage of oxygen to the baby, often causing birth asphyxia, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and birth injury.
- Hypothermia (Brain Cooling) Treatment: The only known treatment for HIE, whereby a newborn’s body temperature is lowered with a cooling blanket or cap to 33.5 degrees for 72 hours. Cooling the body and brain of a baby with HIE slows the metabolic rate, allowing cells to recover and preventing the spread, severity and permanence of brain damage.
- Hypoxia: A shortage of oxygen in the blood.
- Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE): A neonatal brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation and limited blood flow to the baby’s brain at or near the time of birth. Cell death and subsequent brain damage occurs when the brain does not receive adequate oxygenation. HIE is the most common type of neonatal encephalopathy (NE). HIE can cause disabilities and injuries including cerebral palsy, seizures, intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and learning disabilities.
- Improper Fetal Monitoring: The failure of medical professionals to correctly monitor or interpret electronic fetal heart monitoring equipment.
- Intrapartum Asphyxia (Intrauterine Asphyxia): A lack of oxygen flow to the brain before, during or directly after birth. Birth asphyxia is very dangerous and can lead to neonatal encephalopathy (NE) and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). Intrapartum asphyxia is another term for birth asphyxia.
- Ischemia: A shortage of blood flow to the brain.
- The July Effect: A temporary increase in the occurrences of medical errors in the summer months when medical students graduate from school and begin working on patients.
- Medical Malpractice: An act of medical negligence that results in injury or harm to the patient.
- Mixed Injury Pattern Asphyxia: A term describing the extent of oxygen deprivation in cases of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). When a neonate experiences oxygen deprivation patterns characteristic of both acute profound asphyxia and partial prolonged asphyxia, the type of HIE is classified as mixed injury pattern asphyxia. Mixed injury pattern asphyxia can occur before, during or after delivery.
- Negligence (Medical Negligence): Negligence occurs when a medical professional deviates from the standard of care, but does not cause specific injury or harm to the patient.
- Neonatal Encephalopathy (NE): A broad term used to describe disturbed neurological function in a newborn baby. Some signs and symptoms of disturbed neurological function in the newborn infant may include respiratory distress, feeding problems, depressed reflexes, low or high muscle tone (stiff or floppy appearance) and/or seizure activity. Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is the most common type of neonatal encephalopathy.
- Partial Prolonged Asphyxia: A term describing the extent of oxygen deprivation in cases of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). Partial prolonged asphyxia occurs when a baby suffers oxygen deprivation for around 30 minutes. Known causes for partial prolonged asphyxia include oligohydramnios, preeclampsia and hypertension, hypotension, strong contractions and uterine hyperstimulation, placental insufficiency, umbilical cord prolapse, umbilical cord compression, short umbilical cord length and nuchal cords.
- Tachysystole (Uterine Hyperstimulation): A dangerous labor and delivery complication in which uterine contractions occur excessively or abnormally. Tachysystole can limit blood flow through the umbilical cord, thereby causing serious fetal oxygen deprivation and birth injury.
- Umbilical Cord Blood Gas Test (Interpretation): To determine if a baby has experienced an oxygen-depriving injury (a hypoxic-ischemic or anoxic event), it is best to examine umbilical artery blood, which is the blood that comes from the baby (as opposed to the blood going to the baby through umbilical veins). Umbilical cord blood gas tests look for acidity in the umbilical artery blood in order to determine if anaerobic metabolism occurred, which indicates that an instance of oxygen deprivation occurred.
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We encourage you to contact our Detroit, Michigan HIE attorneys with any legal questions, concerns, or case inquiries you may have. If your loved one was diagnosed with HIE or another permanent injury or disability from medical malpractice, you and your family may be entitled to compensation.
At Reiter & Walsh, P.C., we solely handle birth injury and birth trauma cases. Our attorneys specifically focus on HIE, cerebral palsy and birth injury cases, giving our team the depth of knowledge and experience necessary to win complicated, multi-million dollar cases.
To begin your free case review, please contact a Michigan HIE attorney from our legal team in whichever way best suits your needs. Our HIE attorneys serve clients across the United States. Should we take your case, you will never be charged until we win or settle in your favor.
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