Birth Asphyxia Building a Strong Claim

Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) also called “birth asphyxia” or “neonatal encephalopathy” is a serious form of brain damage that often occurs as a result of medical malpractice.  This damage occurs either directly before or during birth when there is not sufficient oxygen (blood) supplied to the brain of the baby. 

Some of the most frequent factors associated with HIE include:

  • Preeclampsia or maternal age/obesity
  • Failure to monitor fetal distress
  • Infections arising from either the mother or fetus
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Premature delivery
  • Placental complications
  • Umbilical cord problems
  • Misuse of Pitocin or other drugs that induce contractions
  • Post-term delivery

When the brain of a child is denied necessary oxygen, the brain cells begin dying off quickly and irreversibly. Physicians may attempt treatment including permissive hypothermia, which is lowering of the body temperature to 92 degrees to arrest cell death. Some cases of HIE are not diagnosed until the presence of developmental disorders appear as the child gets older.

The prevalence (how often it occurs in the general population) is relatively high occurring in 1.5 of every 1000 live births. Some data suggest HIE is responsible for up to 1/4 of all neonatal deaths globally.  Some symptoms that HIE is developing include:

  • Breathing problems
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty sucking, swallowing, or latching on
  • Low muscle tone
  • Abnormal consciousness/coma
  • Abnormal responses to light

If you believe that your child has experienced HIE, it is critically important to work with an attorney who understands the complexities of this type of medical complication so that they can assist you in obtaining justice.  Reach out to the Law Offices of Dr. Russell W. Sawyer for a free consultation, by email or contact us at (707) 888-1118.

Russell W. Sawyer, MD, JD

131A Stony Circle, Ste 500,
Santa Rosa, CA 95401

Phone: (707) 888-1118|

Fax: (707) 657-7666


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