Denver Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy Lawyers
Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) or neonatal encephalopathy is a serious brain injury babies can suffer due to a lack of oxygen during birth. Without oxygen, brain cells die off and cause permanent, widespread damage. This damage can result in a lifelong cognitive disability, and may even cause seizures, impaired motor control, and developmental delays. No parent wants that for their child.
If your baby suffered hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, you should immediately speak to an experienced Colorado birth injury attorney. Medical negligence may be to blame for what happened to your child, and HIE will lead to serious, lifelong expenses. You shouldn’t be stuck with the bill that comes with physical therapy, special classes, and care for your child.
The top trial lawyers at Leventhal Puga Braley P.C. want to help. We handle major birth injury cases across the country and have helped countless families recover compensation to provide for their children. Please call us at (303) 759-9945 or toll-free at (877) 433-3906 for a free consultation about your situation.
Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy is also called perinatal asphyxia or cerebral asphyxia. "Hypoxic" means low oxygen, and "ischemic" means a cut-off blood flow. "Encephalopathy" is a general term for widespread brain damage. However, HIE is not necessarily caused by both hypoxia and ischemia - it can be either or both.
HIE happens when a baby’s brain is deprived of oxygen during pregnancy, labor, or birth. While a fetus can compensate for a momentary lack of oxygen, a prolonged period of deprivation is likely to cause brain damage, thus resulting in HIE. It can also result in damage to other organs, such as the kidneys and heart, as the entire body, not just the brain, relies on oxygen for survival. This damage can later cause epilepsy, developmental delays, and motive and cognitive impairment.
HIE takes place in two stages. First, brain cells are damaged due to a lack of oxygen or blood. Then, when blood flow and oxygen are restored, the toxins that built up in the damaged cells are released into the body, creating even more harm. This is called a reperfusion injury. HIE is an incredibly dangerous condition that can impact your child for the rest of their life. Early detection is key for treatment and preventing further damage.
If the condition is caught early enough, then it can be prevented. Prevention is key when it comes to hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, but your doctors must monitor you and your child properly in order to do so. The most important things doctors can do in order to prevent HIE are:
- Monitor the baby closely so that fetal distress (also called non-reassuring fetal heart rate) is detected right away.
- Deliver the baby quickly when fetal distress is present.
If these steps are not followed, then the development of HIE may not be found in time to prevent long-lasting harm. Many expecting mothers are at risk for HIE, and so doctors must always be ready for that to be a potential issue. If they do not, and the disorder is not caught, then your child’s brain damage may be the result of medical malpractice.
Brain injuries will have different symptoms based on the area of the brain that is damaged. Some symptoms and indicators include:
- The baby has difficulty feeding, sucking, or swallowing food.
- The baby has a low heart rate.
- The baby was resuscitated at birth.
- The baby had a seizure shortly after delivery.
- The baby has a bluish skin tone.
- The baby had a low Apgar score for more than five minutes after birth.
- The baby has low muscle tone and/or limpness.
- The baby is suffering from multiple organ issues, for instance in the lungs or heart.
- The baby has difficulty breathing.
- The baby has a strange response to light.
- The baby falls into a coma.
If doctors suspect HIE, they might run a MRI scan or a head ultrasound. Doctors need to establish whether it’s a mild, moderate, or severe case of HIE and then determine the best path of action from there. Therapeutic hypothermia, also known as cooling, which involves lowering the baby’s body temperature within the first few hours of injury, may be successful in minimizing the effects of HIE if done in time. Therapeutic hypothermia is only an option if your baby’s HIE was caught immediately after birth. Unfortunately, if the delivery team failed to recognize the risk of HIE, or failed to test for it, then chances are they will not recognize the need to treat the injury.
Babies with HIE can experience developmental delays, seizures, motor skill issues, neurodevelopment problems, cognitive issues, and other medical difficulties. The extent of HIE cannot be fully determined until the child is a few years old, but treatment will almost certainly be expensive.
If you believe your child’s brain damage was caused by medical malpractice, we strongly suggest that you get in touch with our Denver hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy attorneys at Leventhal Puga Braley P.C. right away. There is a deadline to file a claim based on medical malpractice, and it is different in every state. On top of that, the sooner we can examine your medical records, the more evidence we can start to gather.
Leventhal Puga Braley P.C. handles birth injury claims around the country, and our award-winning trial lawyers are committed to getting injured children the compensation they deserve. The medical team that put you in this difficult position must be held accountable for their negligent behavior. We want to ensure that what happened to you never happens to another family.
While we handle your case, you focus on taking care of your child and your family. There will be no fees until we get you a settlement or jury verdict. Call us at (303) 759-9945 today for a free consultation.
- Malpractice Concerning Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy
- Cooling Therapy Helps Newborns Years Later - NIH News in Health
- Birth Asphyxia - National Center for Biotechnology Information