How Can Hypoxic Brain Injury in Newborns Be Prevented?

Associated Conditions, Birth Injury, Prenatal Care and Childbirth

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Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, or HIE, is a brain injury caused by a lack of oxygen. Infants are susceptible to hypoxic ischemic brain injury due to the many opportunities for oxygen and blood deprivation to the brain during gestation, labor, and birth. Prevention is key when it comes to HIE, meaning that medical professionals must do their best to monitor the health and wellbeing of the mother and baby throughout the pregnancy, labor, and delivery processes.

When proper prevention techniques are used, such as recognizing and addressing risk factors, hypoxic injury to the brain can be less likely. Here, we’ll discuss how medical professionals can help prevent hypoxic brain damage and how to tell if your baby’s HIE was a result of medical negligence.

Effective Ways of Preventing HIE

To understand how to effectively prevent HIE, it’s important to understand how it occurs. When blood and oxygen are cut off or limited from an infant’s brain during pregnancy or birth, parts of the brain begin to rapidly decay and die. The resulting hypoxic brain injury can be life-threatening and cause lifelong physical and/or mental disabilities.

Causes of HIE include issues during pregnancy such as infection, placenta problems, preeclampsia, and stroke, as well as issues during labor and delivery such as placental abruption, low blood pressure, uterine rupture, and more. Although many of these conditions are rare, watching for, diagnosing, and treating them as quickly as possible is essential to preventing hypoxic ischemic brain injury. Some of the measures that can be taken by doctors to prevent HIE include:

  • Prenatal testing to confirm health of mother and baby
  • Specialist care for high-risk pregnancies
  • Excellent prenatal and neonatal care to ensure smooth pregnancy and delivery, such as fetal heart rate monitoring, medication, supplements, and cesarean section delivery if necessary
  • Prevention of premature birth

What is Considered Lack of Prevention?

Parents whose children suffer hypoxic injury to the brain often wonder what could have been done to prevent their child’s HIE. Some preventable medical mistakes can include:

  • Not recognizing important risk factors
  • Not delivering the baby in time
  • Not properly monitoring baby’s heart rate
  • Not resuscitating or intubating the baby quickly in an oxygen-deprived complication
  • Failure in essential communication between medical care providers around test results, risk factors, and the like

As HIE is caused by oxygen deprivation, and lack of blood and oxygen flow is highly dependent on proper care by medical professionals, providing the necessary care and communicating properly is key to preventing hypoxic brain damage.

Did Medical Malpractice Cause Your Child’s Hypoxic Ischemic Brain Injury?

A healthcare provider’s lack of prevention during pregnancy, labor, and delivery can be tantamount to medical negligence in regard to a hypoxic injury to the brain. If your child experienced a hypoxic ischemic brain injury and you think lack of prevention, medical malpractice, or medical negligence may have been a factor, you should contact an experienced legal team to seek justice and the compensation you need to treat your child’s HIE. Attorneys with HIE experience can help parents uncover the truth and discover whether their child’s hypoxic brain injury was preventable.

The Cerebral Palsy Family Lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs, LLC have consulted with over 30,000 families nationwide. If you believe your child suffered from medical malpractice that led to HIE, contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.



Claire Surles, RN
Reviewed by:
Claire Surles, RN
Registered Nurse

Claire comes to JJS after a 10-year career as a labor and delivery nurse. She dedicated her hospital efforts to advocating for families, providing the safest birthing environment possible as Newborn Admission Nurse at UMMC St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Maryland. Her passion for helping those who experienced losses at any stage of gestation led to her appointment as Coordinator of the hospital’s ROOTS perinatal loss program. READ FULL BIO

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