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Hypoxic-ischemic encephalitis often caused by birth trauma

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalitis (HIE) is a type of brain trauma that is found in infants in Texas and across the nation. It occurs when the baby's brain doesn't receive enough blood or oxygen, and this usually happens before or during labor. The condition occurs in 20 infants out of every 1,000 live births. HIE is more likely in premature infants; approximately 60 percent of infants born before 37 weeks gestation experience HIE.

The condition affects large portions of the infant's brain and body. When HIE occurs, the supply of oxygen going to the brain is reduced (hypoxia) and the blood flow going to other vital body organs is slowed (ischemia). Symptoms of HIE typically include low heart rate, no breathing or weak breathing, amniotic fluid that contains meconium, poor muscle tone, blueish or pale skin, seizures and high levels of acid in the blood. If HIE is suspected, a doctor may order tests to confirm the diagnosis. These tests include CT scans, echocardiography, MRI scans and ultrasounds.

The condition often occurs during birth trauma when the umbilical cord has been compressed or the skull has been fractured. Infants who are diagnosed with HIE may display mild, moderate or severe symptoms. Those with mild HIE may have no after effects and go on to live a healthy life. However, infants with moderate or severe symptoms may require ongoing care, have extensive brain damage or die prematurely.

The parents of an infant who has HIE may have to pay medical bills or take time off of work in order to care for their child. Birth injuries that cause HIE may have been caused by a doctor or hospital that acted negligently. In these cases, the doctor or hospital may be responsible for damages. A medical malpractice lawyer could help a family receive damages by filing a lawsuit.

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