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What is HIE (Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy)?

What is HIE? For parents dealing with a birth injury, this medical condition can be confusing. In many instances, parents are initially trying to understand how their child was injured at birth. If you are dealing with this issue, and have questions, know that you are not alone.

The purpose of this Maryland birth injury educational article is to discuss HIE and how it can be dangerous for a baby from a medical legal standpoint.

WHAT IS HIE?

HIE stands for hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. To better understand this medical condition, it is best to break the three words down. The first word, hypoxic, deals with oxygen. The best way to understand ischemic, is to view it as blood flow. Encephalopathy, is an injury to the brain. When we put the words back together we get a decreased level of blood and oxygen which causes a brain injury.

Parents can be introduced to HIE in some cases by seeing the word in the medical records. In addition to HIE being in the medical records, doctors will sometimes talk to the parents about the baby suffering from a hypoxic event during delivery. The main thing to take away with HIE is that the brain injury was due to a reduced level of blood and oxygen.

HIE IN LABOR AND DELIVERY

Doctors and nurses have tools which can be used to monitor how well a baby is tolerating a vaginal delivery. One tool is the electronic fetal heart monitor. This monitor is used in many hospitals throughout the United States. It can monitor the baby’s heart rate among other things.

A normal baby’s heart rate is about 120 to 160 beats per minute (bpm). If the heart rate is above 160 bpm for a considerable amount of time, tachycardia may set in. If the fetal heart monitor reveals the heart rate at 100 bpm or lower, bradycardia is present. These conditions coupled with meconium, late decelerations, minimal variability, etc. can be good indicators that the baby may be in fetal distress.

Fetal distress can be caused by profusion problems for the baby. Remember the term HIE from above? Now we have come full circle. Profusion problems can lead to a reduced level of blood and oxygen getting to the baby. There can be many causes of profusion related issues for a baby. For example, umbilical cord compression can lead to profusion problems and so can placenta related issues. These are but a few ways in which a baby’s blood and oxygen levels can become compromised.

WAS HIE MENTIONED IN YOUR BABY’S BIRTH RECORDS?

If you have more questions regarding the challenges your baby may face in the future, or, concerns about your baby not meeting certain neonatal milestones, and you think the cause of these milestone issues are tied back to your baby’s seizures and NICU stay following birth, this is what I invite you to do. Pick up the phone and give me a call. I can be reached at (301)-850-4832.

I answer Maryland Birth Injury and Medical Malpractice questions just like yours all the time, and I would be happy to listen to your story.

Marcus B. Boston, Esq. Boston Law Group, LLC 2 Wisconsin Circle, Suite 700 Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815 bostonlawllc.com 301-850-4832 1-833-4 BABY HELP

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