Atlanta Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy Lawyers
Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a serious birth injury. Coming from the terms “hypoxia” meaning low oxygen and “ischemia” meaning blocked or restricted blood flow, HIE occurs when a fetus undergoes oxygen deprivation through chemical or mechanical means and suffers widespread brain damage as a result.
HIE is often seen along with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, intellectual disabilities, and other co-occurring conditions. It can range from mild to severe, but even moderate HIE will leave a child with lifelong health struggles. If you suspect your doctor could have prevented your child’s HIE, please call the Atlanta birth injury attorneys at Grant Law Office by dialing (404) 995-3955 or toll-free (866) 249-5513. We will investigate and see if you have grounds for medical malpractice lawsuit.
After a baby is delivered, doctors will test his or her Apgar score on a scale of 0, 1, or 2. The scores will be taken every few minutes, especially if the situation appears dangerous. High scores are good; low scores indicate the baby has a brain injury. Apgar has a backronym detailing its function:
- Appearance: A baby with HIE will often be “cyanotic” or blue all over from a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream. The normal newborn skin tone is pinkish.
- Pulse: A newborn’s pulse should be around or over 100 beats a minute, especially after going through the trauma of birth. Babies with HIE may not have any pulse at all.
- Grimace: It’s well-known that doctors try to prompt a crying response in newborns, and this is why. If the newborn has little to no response to stimulation, it’s a sign something is wrong.
- Activity: If the baby does not resist the flexing of his or her limbs, or show muscle tonicity, it’s another sign of brain damage.
- Respiration: Healthy babies are able to breathe and cry. Babies with HIE often have difficulty drawing breath, and sometimes cannot breathe at all and need to be resuscitated.
There are also procedures doctors can perform, such as therapeutic hypothermia, to minimize the severity of brain damage if the baby has a consistently low Apgar score. However, another danger these newborns face is called reperfusion injury; when blood returns to the oxygen-deprived cells and they undergo a dangerous inflammatory response.
It’s estimated that HIE, also called perinatal, birth, or cerebral asphyxia, causes 23% of newborn deaths worldwide.
Doctors have a duty to monitor a mother throughout her pregnancy and plan the birth accordingly. If there are signs the baby isn’t getting enough oxygen at any time, a C-section and intensive care may be necessary. During labor, a failure to monitor the fetal heart rate can allow brain damage to develop.
Here are some potential causes of HIE. They may impede the baby’s blood flow, deplete the oxygen in the baby’s system, or both:
- Prolonged labor
- Untreated fetal distress
- Delayed C-section delivery
- Shoulder dystocia, when the baby gets “stuck” on the mother’s pelvis
- Umbilical cord compression or true knot
- Labor-inducing drugs, like Pitocin, which don’t allow a baby to “rest” between contractions
It only takes four to six minutes for brain cells to start dying without oxygen, and if a complication arises during childbirth, the baby has a limited amount of “oxygen reserves” in the umbilical cord. If labor is prolonged and an emergency C-section is not performed in time, the baby will suffer some level of brain injury.
An OB/GYN, a delivery room doctor, a neonatal nurse, hospital staff, a midwife, or the hospital itself may all be responsible for a baby being diagnosed with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.
Wayne and Kimberly Grant are parents to four children, and take birth injury cases to heart. We know medical negligence in the delivery room can devastate an entire family, destroying what should have been one of the happiest days of their lives.
When you’re represented by Grant Law Office, you receive individual attention. Our clients have serious injuries, and they need our help. We believe in strategic and thorough evidence, and pride ourselves on being down-to-earth and reachable.
Our Atlanta medical malpractice attorneys have handled severe HIE cases throughout Georgia, working to restore balance to these families and get them compensation for their child’s future care. We serve Atlanta, Riverdale, Macon, Columbus, Savannah, and Decatur. For a free case evaluation, please call (404) 995-3955 or toll-free (866) 249-5513.
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