What can I do if my baby was Diagnosed with Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (Oxygen Deprivation at Birth) in Mississippi?
Mississippi Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) Lawyers
First and foremost, parents should know that hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is an extremely complex diagnosis. When a baby is first diagnosed with HIE, time is of the essence in making sure that the baby is treated in time. Once the baby has been treated, parents should enroll their child in intensive therapy and treatment, and, if they suspect the baby’s injury was due to the errors of a medical practitioner, they have the option of litigating to make sure they can get funding for their child’s medical care, therapy and treatment. This allows parents to secure their child’s future and ensure they will receive the best possible care throughout their lifespan.
Parents should know what HIE is before continuing their search for justice. The diagnosis essentially involves a brain injury caused by a lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain during pregnancy, birth or delivery. HIE is commonly caused by medical malpractice, especially in cases where doctors are delaying C-section for a prolonged period of time or where doctors are using vacuum extractors or forceps. Medical staff are supposed to follow certain instructions (known as ‘standards of care’) to make sure they are avoiding unnecessary risk of injury; sometimes, however, this does not happen, and medical staffers can mismanage certain obstetrical emergencies and complications which end up causing preventable, permanent and often severe injury.
Whether you are in Gulfport, Jackson, Hattiesburg, Southaven, Biloxi, Meridian, Tupelo or another Mississippi town, the Mississippi birth injury attorneys at Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers can help you understand what happened during your child’s birth. We can examine your medical records to determine whether there was medical malpractice in your child’s birth and help you pursue justice if you choose to litigate. If you are concerned about the way your child is developing, please reach out to us 24 hours a day at 888-419-2229 or online at abclawcenters.com.
What Signs Should I Look Out for If I Suspect My Baby Was Oxygen-Deprived at Birth?
HIE looks different in different cases because the extent and location of the brain injury can vary widely. Some children can have severe injuries that impact motor function, cognitive function, consciousness and behavior, requiring around-the-clock care for the rest of their lives. In other cases, HIE may be more mild, causing lesser cognitive or motor impairments which require intensive occupational, physical and other therapies but have less severe prognoses. In cases of very mild HIE where the child received cooling, there may be little to no cognitive or motor impairment. Outcomes vary, and often the end result of the injury becomes apparent as the child grows and develops higher-order cognitive skills.
However, when it comes to identifying HIE early, there are certain signs that parents can recognize and talk to their child’s pediatrician about. While not every child with HIE has all of these signs or symptoms, they are fairly commonly associated with HIE and thus are a cause for concern.
Signs of concern before, during or immediately after birth:
- Baby inhaled meconium (fecal matter) during birth (Meconium Aspiration Syndrome)
- Baby needed resuscitation (breathing help) after birth
- Low Apgar score:
- Baby was born blue
- Baby was born pale
- Baby was born floppy
- Baby was born limp
- Baby did not cry at birth
- Birth was traumatic
- Mother experienced heavy bleeding during or around the time of delivery (hemorrhaging)
- Baby experienced bleeding during or around the time of delivery (hemorrhage)
- Birth was prolonged or stalled
- Attempts at vaginal birth failed, requiring a C-section
- Mother was given Pitocin or Cytotec to speed up labor (causing uterine hyperstimulation)
- Baby had a short, long, or knotted umbilical cord or the cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck
- Baby was not positioned properly (face or breech presentation)
- Baby was too small (IUGR)
- Baby was too big (macrosomia)
- Baby had a fetal stroke
- Baby or mother had an infection
- Baby has residual seizures and/or had seizures after birth
- The mother had certain underlying health issues that were poorly controlled (including preeclampsia, postterm pregnancy, diabetes or obesity)
Signs of concern in early development
- Baby had an extended stay in the NICU or required an extended period of assisted breathing
- Baby had jaundice
- Baby had hydrocephalus
- Baby had PVL (periventricular leukomalacia)
- Baby had low blood sugar
Signs of concern after early development
- Child begins to miss developmental milestones
What Can Parents Do to Help Their Child in Terms of Medical Treatment and Therapy for HIE?
Unfortunately, there are relatively few treatments for HIE designed to mitigate the brain damage caused by a hypoxic incident. Most of the care provided to babies with HIE is supportive and therapeutic in nature; it is designed to stabilize the baby and maximize functional abilities. Indeed, there is only a single treatment for HIE available. This treatment, hypothermia therapy (also known as ‘cooling therapy’) helps heal some of the brain damage a baby may have, but is only proven to be effective within the first six hours of birth (and the sooner the better). This non-invasive treatment cools down the baby’s body temperature to slow down some of the damage the baby may otherwise have; the treatment allows the baby’s brain to recover some of the function it would otherwise have lost. The key component of this therapy involves an understanding of how brain injury evolves: typically, when the brain is injured, cells continue to die hours and days after the initial injury. Hypothermia therapy helps to arrest this process of secondary injury and contain the damage.
Once the child has been treated with hypothermia therapy, parents can enroll the child in early intervention programs to do their best to ensure the child hits their developmental milestones as well as possible. Children with HIE can sometimes have motor, cognitive, speech-related or behavioral difficulties, and early intervention (such as occupational, physical, speech and cognitive therapies) can help reduce the risk that the child will have severe disability, depending on the extent and location of the initial brain injury. There are numerous resources available for early intervention programs – each state has a department devoted to providing such resources. The Mississippi Department of Health has a master listing of early intervention service providers that parents can contact.
What Can Parents Do to Help Secure Funds for Their Child’s Care if Their Child Had a Birth Injury in Mississippi?
Parents have options when it comes to securing funds for their child’s care. Often, children with birth injuries can claim coverage for healthcare through Medicare or Medicaid, and are sometimes eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSSI) if they meet certain requirements. These government services can help defray the costs of certain critical services, but, unfortunately, in many cases these services may not always be enough to pay for a child’s care, especially if they have a moderate to severe case of HIE which may require round-the-clock care.
If a child’s birth injury was caused by a medical staffer’s mistake, this means that negligence occurred; if there was negligence, it is possible to litigate to recover funds for your child’s care. We believe that medical professionals should be held accountable for their errors, especially when such errors result in a child’s permanent brain injuries. Feel free to reach out to us for a free case evaluation; we are available 24/7 at 888-419-2229 or online at abclawcenters.com.
Getting Help for Your Child’s Mississippi Birth Injury
If you believe your child’s development was impacted by a medical practitioner’s mistake at birth, it can be useful to have a Mississippi birth injury attorney look over your medical records to determine whether you may be able to secure funds for your child’s care via legal action. Unlike other large personal injury law firms (which accept completely unrelated practice areas ranging from car and bus accidents to drug side effects to poisoning injuries), the law offices of Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers focus on specifically birth injuries, providing us with the knowledge and focus needed to litigate these complex cases successfully. Our attorneys have 90+ years of combined experience, and we strive to help parents find peace of mind in knowing their children will be properly cared for no matter what. We can provide you with a free case evaluation and explain your legal options. We never charge parents any out-of-pocket costs and are only paid if we secure a recovery. Talk to us 24/7 for a free and completely confidential case evaluation.
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