Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy Treatment
A lack of oxygen during delivery is always cause for concern. If appropriate actions aren’t taken quickly enough to restore oxygen, the results can potentially be devastating. A very mild case of birth asphyxia might not cause any permanent injury, but more severe cases can lead to seizure disorders, cerebral palsy, and other types of brain injuries.
Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) is another type of brain injury that can occur if a child experiences a lack of oxygen during delivery or just after delivery. It’s an injury that occurs in two separate stages: right after the initial oxygen deprivation and when normal blood flow is restored and reaches the brain. The second stage is known as a “reperfusion injury,” which occurs when blood returns to a damaged part of the brain. It’s estimated that HIE occurs in about 2-9 out of every 1,000 live births.
During delivery, there are several different ways a loss of oxygen can occur. It often happens when the umbilical cord becomes twisted or compressed, if shoulder dystocia occurs, or as a result of trauma during delivery. It can also be caused by maternal health conditions, such as low blood pressure, blood clotting disorders, or uterine rupture.
For infants with HIE, therapeutic hypothermia is the most widely used type of treatment. During therapeutic hypothermia, the baby is cooled for 72 hours to reduce their body temperature. By doing this, the baby’s metabolic rate slows down and gives brain cells an opportunity to recover and prevent damage from spreading to other parts of the brain. After being cooled, the body is then re-warmed gradually to minimize the risk of a reperfusion injury.
For therapeutic hypothermia to be used as treatment, it needs to be given very quickly after the time of injury. It’s currently advised that therapeutic hypothermia be administered within six hours after birth, but some research has suggested that it could be beneficial if administered within 24 hours.
Since HIE can be associated with a wide range of conditions such as cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, hearing and vision problems, respiratory problems, and developmental delays, other types of treatment focus on the exact nature of the injury. For example, a child who is having difficulty breathing on their own may be placed on a respirator while a child with seizures would be given medication. In some cases, a child could benefit from physical or occupational therapy.
If your child has HIE, it’s important to contact a birth trauma lawyer find out what your legal options are. Even with treatment, it’s still possible for there to be long-term effects. At Goodwin & Scieszka, our attorneys are experienced in handling cases involving injuries that occur around the time of birth. Contact us today with any questions you have about your case.