Birth Injuries

What Are Some Of The Causes and Risk Factors for Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy?

In terms of birth trauma, there are several ways that a baby can develop hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. Parents must understand that a reduction in blood and oxygen can possibly lead to HIE. Some of the notable causes of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy [1] are as follows:


Premature Birth


Baby Suffers A Stroke (Before Delivery/During Delivery)


Umbilical Cord Issues: These problems can lead to hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy due to the umbilical cord delivering important nutrients to the baby. One of the biggest areas of concern is cord compression and be seen in umbilical cord prolapse. Cord prolapse is a medical condition where the umbilical cord falls out of the uterus before the baby. Compression can also happen with a knotted umbilical cord (just as the name says) and nuchal cord (umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck).


Shoulder Dystocia: The baby suffers an injury to their arm and or hand, and an injury to the brain can happen due to a compressed umbilical cord.


Failure To Correctly Monitor Electronic Fetal Heart Monitor: This monitors the baby’s heart rate and acts as an aide for the doctors to determine whether the baby is suffering from fetal distress.


Tachysystole: Excessive and frequent contractions during delivery. The resting period during contractions are limited.


Placenta/Uterus Problems: Rupturing of the uterine is a serious childbirth event where the wall of the uterus becomes compromised, and the components found within can pour into the abdominal cavity. This rupture can reduce the amount of blood and oxygen to the baby, which creates a hypoxic situation. Placental abruption, where the placenta detaches from the uterus, can also result in hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. Placenta previa, where the placenta covers the cervix besides growing on the top or side of the uterus, can also cause hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy due to excessive bleeding.


Baby Size & Delivery Position Issues: Cephalopelvic disproportion, where the baby’s head is too large to pass through the pelvis, can also cause HIE. Additionally, if the baby is delivered in the breech position, it can lead to hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. A breech baby is delivered feet or buttocks first and this type of delivery can lead to HIE due to umbilical cord compression.


Forceps & Vacuum Assisted Deliveries: These types of deliveries can be a culprit for hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. Head reasons can be the ending result of improper use of forceps or vacuum instruments.


Failure Or Delay In Performing C-Section

[1] University of California San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospitals Neonatal Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy

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