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Is It Possible to Prevent Brain Damage Following Oxygen Deprivation?

July 31st, 2017
On behalf of David Bowling of The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation posted in Birth Injuries on Monday, July 31, 2017.

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a birth injury that arises as a result of oxygen deprivation, and it can have devastating and even fatal consequences. According to Newborn and Infant Nursing Reviews, HIE occurs in up to 2.5 per 1,000 live births in developed countries.

Since the incidence of HIE has not decreased despite obstetric advancements aimed at preventing it, much of the current medical research focuses instead on minimizing the extent of any subsequent brain damage. Although every case is different, there have been some promising treatments following hypoxic events that appear to prevent brain damage in newborns.

If your child sustained a serious injury during delivery and you think medical negligence is to blame, a brain injury lawyer from The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm can help you determine the best way to proceed. Call (504) 586-5200 to schedule a consultation with a birth injury attorney in Baton Rouge.

What Is Therapeutic Hypothermia?

According to BBC News, there have been no approved treatments for reducing the side effects of oxygen deprivation at birth until recently, and that treatment is therapeutic hypothermia. Therapeutic hypothermia refers to the act of reducing the body’s core temperature in an attempt to prevent brain damage.

The aim of therapeutic hypothermia is to slow down all of the body’s metabolic rates and, as a result, reduce the metabolic demands of the brain. This treatment cannot reverse the initial damage caused by hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, but researchers have found that it has the potential to minimize subsequent brain damage that can occur following a hypoxic incident.

There have been numerous studies on the effects that cooling blankets have on newborn babies in developed countries all over the world. Researchers have determined that lowering an infant’s body temperature to approximately 92 degrees Fahrenheit within the first six hours of life can reduce the chance of death and disability among full-term babies suffering from HIE.

What Causes HIE?

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy can occur before, during, or after birth. In some cases, it is unavoidable; in others, it arises as the result of medical malpractice. Possible causes of HIE that can happen during pregnancy include:


Drug and alcohol abuse;

Cardiac disease;

Maternal diabetes; and

Poor circulation.

During labor and delivery, certain complications can cause oxygen deprivation that can lead to brain damage. Some common intrapartum complications that lead to HIE include:

Umbilical cord accidents;

Excessive placental bleeding;

Abnormal fetal position;

Low maternal blood pressure;

Rupture of the uterus or placenta; and

Prolonged late stages of labor.

Sometimes, infants can suffer from HIE after birth. The most common causes of hypoxia following delivery include:

Premature birth;

Skull or brain trauma;

Infections like meningitis and sepsis;

Cardiac or pulmonary disease;

Low neonatal blood pressure; and

Congenital birth malformations.

If your child suffered from hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and you think hospital staff did not do everything they could to help, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. Contact The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm to discuss your case with a brain injury lawyer in Baton Rouge. Call (504) 586-5200 to schedule a consultation with a birth injury attorney in Louisiana

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