Treatment for HIE is a question that we field a lot from parents, especially when the HIE diagnosis is new in time. From physical therapy, to occupational therapy, to hydro/aquatic therapy, parents are usually concerned about what type of treatment that may be available for their baby.


In this birth trauma educational article, I am going to discuss from a medical legal standpoint, what is HIE and how can hypothermia cooling be used in some cases. As with any medical issues for treatment purposes, it is always good to speak with your specific doctor regarding the best course of action moving forward.




HIE, or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy is a medical condition. One of the easiest ways to understand HIE is to look at the three words separately. Hypoxic in this context deals with oxygen. Ischemic is a word used to describe blood flow. Encephalopathy means a brain injury. When the words are all put back together it means a reduced level of blood and oxygen which leads to a brain injury. So, for this article and supporting video, this is the working definition of HIE.


What can cause HIE? There can be many causes of HIE during labor and delivery, notably when a restriction of the umbilical cord occurs. Remember, the umbilical cord can be a baby’s lifeline. It is connected to mother and provides blood and oxygen (and other nutrients) to the baby. Sometimes during delivery, the cord can become compressed and cause a reduction in blood and oxygen.


Doctors use a device called the electronic fetal heart monitor to help assess fetal well-being. When doctor fail to properly interpret the readings on the monitor, it can prevent the baby from getting the needed treatment during delivery. If conservative treatments do not work, then doctors must be ready to move to an emergency C-section. Failure to do so can lead to an HIE diagnosis in some cases.




One type of treatment for HIE following delivery is hypothermia cooling. With hypothermia cooling, doctors are looking to cool the baby down. The hope with hypothermia cooling is to lessen the severity of the injury. It is important for parents to understand that the purpose of the cooling is not to erase the injury, but to attempt to lessen the severity.


Hypothermia cooling is a treatment option that must adhere to specific criteria and guidelines. The treatment is done within 6 hours of birth and must continue for a continuous 72 hours. During the cooling, doctors can perform other treatments if other areas of the baby have been impacted by HIE. For example, breathing treatments, kidney and liver treatments, etc…




Treatment for HIE using hypothermia cooling is another tool that doctors can use to try and help slow down the severity of a brain injury at birth. As with almost everything in life, this treatment is not 100% successful. With that said, in some cases it may help.


If you have more questions regarding what happened to your baby during labor and delivery give me a call. I can be reached for further discussion at 301-850-4832. I talk with families all the time about birth trauma related injuries and I would be happy to listen to your story.


Marcus B. Boston, Esq.

Boston Law Group, LLC

2 Wisconsin Circle, Suite 700

Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815


1-833-4 BABY HELP

Marcus Boston is a Maryland medical malpractice attorney who helps people navigate the Maryland childbirth injury and medical malpractice process to get money for their injuries caused by the carelessness of doctors and hospitals. BLG handles cases in Prince George’s County, Baltimore City, Montgomery County, Howard County, Anne Arundel County, and all other Maryland Counties.