Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy



There are plenty of things that can go wrong during childbirth, many of which are minor and only result in temporary issues. Unfortunately, if a serious mistake occurs, or if a nurse, doctor, or other medical professional is negligent, the resulting damage can be severe and lasting. If a child is deprived of oxygen while in the womb, usually during childbirth, the baby may develop hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) or neonatal encephalopathy.

If your child suffered hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy and you think the injury may have been caused by negligence or an error, our firm is prepared to help you seek justice.

Why Choose The Donnelly Law Firm?

Our team of compassionate, zealous attorneys has more than 50 years of combined experience working on cases just like yours. Our firm is fluent in both Spanish and Hebrew, and we handle a variety of birth injury cases.

To date, we have secured more than $140 in settlements and verdicts on behalf of our clients, and we’re passionate about fighting for the rights of the wrongfully injured.

Ready to get started on your case? Call (800) 398-1866 today to discuss your child’s injury with our New Jersey HIE attorneys.

What is HIE?

Everyone needs oxygen to survive, but for newborn babies, their need for oxygen is especially important, especially at the time of their birth. Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy is a specific type of brain damage that occurs when the baby’s brain fails to receive enough oxygen or blood. When this happens, the baby needs immediate medical attention or the damage could be permanent and substantial.

Symptoms of Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy

The birth process can be challenging and traumatic, which is why medical staff need to be vigilant in their care of both the mother and baby. If the baby suffers any injury, he or she could suffer lifelong damage.

Babies who suffer neonatal encephalopathy may experience the following symptoms:

  • Abnormal lethargy
  • Acidic blood
  • Blood pressure abnormalities
  • Feeding problems
  • Lack of alertness
  • Lack of natural reflexes
  • Low heart rate
  • Meconium in the amniotic fluid
  • Pale or bluish skin
  • Seizures
  • Trouble breathing
  • Underdeveloped muscle tone

If your newborn child exhibits any of the above symptoms, seek medical attention immediately, as your baby may have suffered a birth injury. HIE injuries can sometimes be difficult to spot, especially because the symptoms might take a while to present themselves. However, if you notice any behavioral problems or developmental delays, you need to see a doctor right away.

Treatment Options for Neonatal Encephalopathy

Once brain damage occurs there is no cure, but there are treatments available that can help improve symptoms and stop certain types of damage from worsening. Treatment often includes therapeutic hyperthermia, which utilizes cold temperatures to prevent brain damage from worsening after an injury occurs. However, this treatment must be administered almost immediately after the injury occurred to have any positive impact.

How Do Children Develop Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy?

HIE can develop in a variety of ways, but it usually occurs as the result of a birth complication. If anything troubling happens during the birth, or if the mother has a preexisting complication, it is the doctor’s responsibility to respond accordingly. If the doctor fails to respond, responds poorly, or responds too late, the mother and child could suffer serious injuries as a result.

Any of the following situations can result in an HIE injury:

  • Breech birth
  • Improper fetal heart rate monitoring
  • Maternal infections
  • Placenta previa
  • Placental abruption
  • Premature birth
  • Prolonged labor
  • Umbilical cord complications
  • Uterine rupture

Any of these birth complications can ultimately deprive the unborn or newborn baby of vital oxygen. Certain complications might create a shortage of oxygen in the blood, which decreases the amount of blood flow to the brain. When the brain does not receive enough oxygen, it may be damaged, especially if the lack of blood flow is prolonged.

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Over $140,000,000 Won For Our CLients

  • $4.5 Million

    Dennis Donnelly settled a case involving complex issues of medical malpractice during a forceps delivery.

  • $1.2 MILLION

    A child who was born with a Fragile X Syndrome will receive 1.2 million dollars as part of a settlement obtained by Dennis Donnelly.

  • $14 Million

    Dennis M. Donnelly, represented a family in this wrongful birth action.