Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) is a serious birth complication caused by Intrapartum Asphyxia (IA), which is deprivation of oxygen to the brain. It can develop during pregnancy, labor, or delivery, or even after birth. If IA is undetected or lasts too long, it can destroy brain tissue and cause severe impairment or death among infants. Common impairments caused by IA are epilepsy, developmental delay, motor impairment, neurodevelopmental delay, and cognitive impairment.
What to know about HIE:
- HIE affects full-term infants and is caused by lack of oxygen to the brain during labor and delivery. Sadly, 40-60% of infants affected by HIE die before their second birthday or suffer from severe disabilities.
- HIE shows itself as brain and central nervous system dysfunction in a newborn.
- HIE can also result in cerebral palsy (CP).
- If not managed appropriately, conditions such as intrauterine growth restriction, preeclampsia and post-term delivery can lead to HIE.
- Certain events in utero and during the birth process (intrapartum) can put a baby at greater risk for HIE if not identified and treated appropriately. Examples are shoulder dystocia (when a baby’s shoulder is caught against the mother’s pubic bone during delivery), operative vaginal deliveries (vacuum or forceps), maternal fever (chorioamnionitis), placental abruption (placenta separation from the uterus before birth) and/or uterine rupture during late pregnancy or childbirth.