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Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy

Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)

Birth Injury Attorneys in Charlotte

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a serious congenital brain injury caused by lack of oxygen and blood to the brain. Often resulting from asphyxiation immediately before and during delivery, HIE is a leading cause of infant death in the U.S., as well as a prominent factor in many birth injuries.

If your child suffered hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy as a result of a traumatic labor or delivery, it is possible that a negligent medical professional is to blame. Doctors and nurses are responsible for recognizing signs of fetal distress and promptly addressing them in order to limit the risk of serious complications. Failing to take immediate action, including ordering a timely cesarean section (C-section), at the first sign of fetal asphyxiation could constitute medical malpractice.

Contact Charles G. Monnett III & Associates to discuss your situation with one of our Charlotte birth injury lawyers during a free initial consultation: (704) 859-2003. You may also complete an online form.

Symptoms of HIE

Doctors should know and properly respond to signs that a baby is not receiving enough oxygen/blood to the brain.

These signs include but are not limited to:

  • Weak breathing
  • No breathing
  • Low fetal heart rate
  • Signs of meconium in the amniotic fluid
  • Pale/blue-toned skin

When any signs of HIE are present, medical professionals have a responsibility to do everything in their power to quickly deliver the baby and begin immediate treatment. Failure to do so can lead to serious, life-altering complications or even death.

What Causes HIE?

While lack of oxygen and blood to the brain is the primary cause of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, there are several reasons why this might occur.

Some of the common causes and risk factors for HIE include:

  • Preeclampsia
  • Maternal diabetes
  • Maternal drug/alcohol abuse
  • Maternal infections
  • Abnormal fetal position, including breech presentation
  • Low maternal blood pressure
  • Prolonged labor
  • Umbilical cord wrapped around infant’s neck
  • Placental abruption
  • Uterine rupture
  • Excessive placental bleeding
  • Brain/head trauma

Additionally, premature babies are at a higher risk of HIE. Doctors and other medical professionals should be extra cautious in recognizing and responding to signs of fetal distress and/or HIE in premature babies.

Treatments for HIE

While HIE is very serious, the good news is that it is treatable. If a baby is not breathing or has weak breathing after birth, doctors can provide mechanical-assisted breathing to the infant in order to boost the supply of oxygen to the brain. Additionally, a process known as neonatal or therapeutic hypothermia can be used to stop brain damage from worsening. During this process, the infant is cooled in a highly controlled environment in order to lower his or her body and brain temperature, thereby stopping certain chemical processes in the brain which could lead to additional damage.

Other HIE treatments may include the general treatment of seizures, heart function, and blood pressure using medications and/or anesthesia.

Contact Charles G. Monnett III & Associates for a Free Consultation

If you believe your child suffered the effects of HIE due to a medical professional’s negligence, including the failure to recognize and respond to fetal distress or failure to diagnose/treat maternal infections, we can help. Our Charlotte hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy lawyers understand just how difficult and overwhelming this situation is for you and your family, and we are here to provide the caring support and legal advocacy you need.

Reach out to us today at (704) 859-2003 to request your free initial consultation.


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Proven Record of Success

  • $3 Million Cerebral Palsy

    Confidential settlement for a child with cerebral palsy as a result of birth-related brain injury.

  • $13 Million Medical Negligence Verdict

    An infant suffered an undiagnosed case of bacterial meningitis that caused severe neurological damage.

  • $8 Million Confidential Settlement

    Confidential settlement for an infant with bilateral leg amputations following improper placement of the femoral line.

  • $3.375 Million Failure to Diagnose

    Confidential settlement on behalf of a child with severe visual impairments resulting from the failure to properly diagnose retinopathy of prematurity in a newborn child.

  • $3 Million Negligent Administration of Nerve Block

    Confidential settlement for a woman with hypoxic-ischemic brain injury as a result of negligent administration of nerve block for headache.


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