Birth Injuries Can Have Long Term Consequences
For most parents, a pregnancy is filled with joy and anticipation over the coming child. When a newborn child suffers a birth injury, a parent’s world is shattered. As Ohio birth injury lawyers know all too well, the trauma is even worse when the injury is caused by medical malpractice.
Perinatal hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy – frequently referred to as HIE – is one of the more common causes of death and long-term disabilities in American newborns. HIE occurs when the blood and oxygen supply to an infant’s brain is cut off, causing damage to the brain tissue.
HIE can be caused by a number of factors including placental bleeding, a ruptured uterus, birth accidents involving the umbilical cord and various forms of trauma or shock.
HIE is often fatal in newborns. Those that survive usually suffer a multitude of disabilities including cerebral palsy, mental retardation, epilepsy, blindness or severe hearing impairment. The lasting injuries are generally more severe the longer an infant’s blood and oxygen supply has been cut off.
New Treatment Shows Promise
Previously, the only treatment available for HIE was to support the infant’s circulatory, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems while the body attempted to repair itself. Fortunately, a new treatment designed especially to treat babies with HIE is proving successful in improving outcomes for some infants.
The treatment involves fitting the baby with a special “cap” that circulates cool water around the infant’s head for approximately 72 hours. Cooling the baby’s head slows brain metabolism, allowing the brain to recover over a longer period of time.
Head cooling treatment is not right for every baby and cannot totally reverse the effects of brain damage from oxygen deprivation. However, it has been shown to limit the severity of brain damage when administered within six hours of birth.
Unfortunately, many cases of HIE can be linked to medical malpractice. If you think your child may be the victim of a birth injury caused by medical negligence, contact an experienced Ohio birth injury lawyer who can evaluate your case and advise you of your rights.
Source: Children’s Memorial Hospital, “Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE),” April 2010.