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Pittsburgh Birth Injury Lawyers

Hypoxic-ischemic Encephalopathy is Often Preventable

Few moments in life are as eagerly anticipated – or fraught with worry – as the birth of a baby. Fortunately, most new parents will immediately hear their newborn draw a first breath and demonstrate other signs of good health. For others, however, the wait can be agonizingly, painfully slow. Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a form of brain damage which occurs when a baby is deprived of oxygen, either in utero or during delivery. According to Pittsburgh birth injury lawyers at the Moyles Law Firm, the tragedy of a HIE diagnosis is compounded for some parents when they learn that HIE could have been prevented with proper medical care.

Also known as birth or intrapartum asphyxia, HIE can be fatal if the brain is delayed of oxygen for an extended period of time. To that end, studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine maintain that as many as 23% of all newborn deaths are attributable to HIE. Even in a matter of minutes, however, HIE can cause severe, life-long injuries. Babies with HIE who survive childbirth will often go on to suffer from neurological disorders like cerebral palsy, epilepsy, developmental delays, seizures and more.

Causes, Symptoms of HIE are Widespread

Doctors point to a variety of possible causes for HIE. Certain conditions, such as a placental abruption or uterine rupture, occur quickly and must be managed properly in order to minimize risk to an unborn baby. Yet other conditions, such as maternal hypotension, require ongoing medical care and close monitoring by a competent obstetrician. Fetal stroke is also believed to be a contributor to HIE, so it is important that doctors assess and treat fetal stroke risk factors – such as maternal infection, including pelvic inflammatory disease – when they are present.

Whether the underlying cause of HIE is acute, sub-acute or chronic, steps can often be taken which would improve the outcome for a baby. Regular electronic fetal monitoring during prenatal appointments as well as continuous electronic fetal monitoring during labor and delivery can provide important clues about the adequacy of a baby’s oxygen supply. Additionally, Pittsburgh birth injury lawyers say that medical personnel assisting in a birth should always be highly qualified and cognizant of when labor has become prolonged or stalled. The longer a labor is allowed to progress, the greater the risk of complications for an unborn baby.

The range of HIE symptoms are as diverse as its causes. Some infants will exhibit only minor signs of HIE at birth, such as irritability, sleepiness and slightly increased muscle tone. Moderate HIE is exhibited by periods of apnea, seizures – usually within the first 24 hours – and sluggish or absent grasping and sucking reflexes. Severe cases of HIE are readily apparent. Babies suffering from severe HIE may be comatose, exhibit irregular breathing and be in cardiac distress upon birth. When a physician suspects HIE, a CT scan, PET scan, MRI and other tests can be useful in confirming the diagnosis. Sometimes, however, the full extent of HIE is unknown for several years.

Pittsburgh Birth Injury Lawyers at The Moyles Law Firm Represent Families of HIE Victims

Delivering a baby with a potentially serious health problem is traumatic for all involved, but even more so when the injury was avoidable. Pittsburgh birth injury lawyers at The Moyles Law Firm understand the anguish that comes with an HIE diagnosis. We have a demonstrated history of prevailing in court on behalf of families and children affected by HIE. Contact us at 412-281-1055 or 717-233-5400 or complete an online questionnaire to schedule a consultation today. We proudly represent clients throughout Central Pennsylvania, including the towns of Carlisle, Millersville, Hanover, Gettysburg, Lancaster, York, Shippensburg, Hershey, Linglestown and Dillsburg.

James R. Moyles


The Law Offices of James R. Moyles are located in Pittsburgh, PA and in the Harrisburg area to serve clients in and around Dauphin, Perry, Lancaster, York, Franklin. The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Attorney Advertising. This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.