"If your baby has been diagnosed with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy after birth, then s/he has brain damage because of inadequate oxygen during delivery," said Syracuse New York birth injury lawyer Michael A. Bottar, Esq., of Bottar Leone, PLLC. "HIE is a birth injury that can be prevented."
Babies diagnosed with HIE after birth may show a decreased level of consciousness, altered spontaneous activity and abnormal posture. This is because a period of low oxygen has injured the brain, causing cerebral edema (i.e., swelling) that may lead to learning disabilities, mental retardation, epilepsy, poor motor control and spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. 80% of babies who survive HIE have a permanent cognitive or physiological impairment. HIE can also lead to death (50% mortality).
Therapeutic hypothermia is now available to decrease the damage caused by an HIE birth injury. TH involves cooling the baby (on a mattress) to a body temperature of 92.3 degrees for approximately 72 hours. The cooling slows down the metabolic process and decreases the damage caused by swelling. TH must start within 6 hours of birth to be effective.
HIE may be the result of medical malpractice if an obstetrician failed to appropriately respond to fetal distress marked by a non-reassuring increase or decrease in fetal heart rate. An appropriate response includes repositioning, oxygen and, if the heart rate does not improve, delivery by cesarean section as discussed in our prior post titled New York C-Section Lawyer Review of Rising Surgery Rate To Prevent Syracuse Birth Injury.