Both mothers and infants are at a heightened risk of complications and injuries during labor. Sometimes, injuries happen because of unpredictable events; other times, a provider’s negligence is responsible for causing problems. One of the most dangerous forms of birth injuries is hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), or a lack of oxygen to the brain during birth. Infants who do not have sufficient access to oxygen during labor can suffer from permanent brain damage and even die. Providers must be aware of the risk factors that heighten the potential for HIE and can be held liable for birth injuries resulting from failure to provide a safe and appropriate standard of care.
What is Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy?
Although there are many ways that a lack of oxygen can damage an infant during childbirth, HIE specifically refers to an inadequate supply of oxygen to the brain. Many complicating factors can contribute to HIE, including, but not limited to:
Preeclampsia, maternal obesity, high blood pressure, or other pregnancy risks
Placental abruption, placental insufficiency, or other placental complications
Uterine tears and hemorrhaging
Umbilical cord prolapse, infection, knots, or nuchal cord wrapping
HIE is particularly dangerous because even when oxygen has been restored to the infant’s brain, reperfusion injuries can happen when oxygen-deprived brain cells release toxins that spread to healthy brain cells, causing further cell damage and cell death. This can lead to serious brain damage for which there is no cure. About 20 percent of infants who suffer from HIE pass away. For those infants who live, HIE can also cause cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and serious developmental delays.
Medical Provider Negligence and Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy
Many verdicts have been won and settlements met because a doctor’s negligence contributed to an infant suffering from HIE. Doctors who fail to identify obvious signs of acute fetal distress, such as an unusually high or low fetal heart rate, the presence of meconium, or abnormal amniotic fluid levels, may be held responsible for any injuries and the cost of subsequent care.
Call a Cook County Birth Injuries Lawyer
At the Birth Injury Law Alliance, we have worked with many families whose infants suffered from birth injuries and we have seen firsthand how tragic these cases can be. That is why we take every case seriously and will work hard to determine whether the behavior of your medical provider was a factor that caused the birth injury. Call our offices today at 312-462-4200 to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our compassionate Chicago, IL birth injury attorneys.