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Anoxic and Hypoxic Encephalopathy

The most serious types of injury to fetuses in the birth process result from reduction in oxygen — either partial or total. Partial reduction in normal oxygenated blood is called hypoxia — total obstruction or total lack of blood flow produces anoxia.

Brain Injury At Birth

Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy results from restriction in oxygenate blood flow for a sufficient period of time that brain injury and cell death occurs. The longer the problem continues and the more complete the deprivation, the more severe the injury to the infant brain.

  • Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is an injury produced by ongoing partial lack of oxygen
  • Anoxic encephalopathy is an injury produced by a complete lack of oxygen
  • A hypoxic-anoxic injury is known as HAI

Monitoring the degree to which an infant is adequately oxygenated is critical during the birth process: this is why electronic fetal monitoring is vitally important in the hours leading up to birth. An elevation in heart rate (tachycardia) may be an indication that an infant is experiencing a potentially life-threatening problem.

Since the child in utero receives oxygen through the umbilical cord, a problem with compression, pinching or obstruction of the umbilical cord — or with the maternal fetal blood exchange in the placenta — may be apparent on the fetal monitor tracings. Such problems require close attention and appropriate intervention.

The birth injury lawyers of Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger have been helping parents of children with CP or HIE and brain injured children since 1959. Our goal is to ensure your family has the ability to access the resources needed to care for your child. Our firm has a proven track record of
successful verdicts and settlements.

The Medical Results Of Anoxic And Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy

When obstetrical mismanagement produces chronic HIE, an otherwise normal fetus can experience serious harm. Physical, psychological and cognitive functioning can all be impaired by insult to the infant’s brain. HIE is the most frequent cause of neonatal seizures occurring 12-24 hours after birth. These seizures are themselves damaging, and they are difficult to control with anticonvulsants.

Anoxia can be caused by a host of factors. These include umbilical cord compression or obstruction, placental dysfunction, uterine contractility, infant head circumference, and chemical supplementation of labor. A child without oxygen for any significant amount of time may suffer irreparable brain damage and will likely require a lifetime of medical care.

One in four infants with HIE will have permanent problems, including developmental delay, increased tone (hypertonicity), epilepsy, and cerebral palsy. HAI changes the course of many lives — for parents and siblings as well as for the infant.

Helping Children And Their Families Since 1959

If your child has suffered a birth injury in the form of anoxic or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, we want to hear your story. If medical negligence or medical malpractice was involved, we want to help. Contact the birth attorneys at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger in San Francisco for a
free consultation. Call today (415) 981-7210.

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