HIE (Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy) is the official name of the event my son suffered during birth which has led to his current diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy.

Although people seem to be aware of cerebral palsy, the same cannot be said for HIE and i pften face an extremely blank look whenever people ask me "What has he got?" He hasn't got anything, he didn't catch anything, he hasn't inherited anything, he has been through a shit time!

But we are getting through it, with the help of people who do understand, do know what it means and entails. So as I always say knowledge is power; and here is a full explanation so that hopefully one day people will be able to say HIE and we will all know what it is, in the same way people know what cerebral palsy is.

What is hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy?
Brain injury – lack of oxygen to the brain, or asphyxia
Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, or HIE, is the brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation to the brain before, during or following birth. The newborn’s body can compensate for brief periods of depleted oxygen, but if the asphyxia lasts too long, brain tissue is destroyed. Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy due to fetal or neonatal asphyxia is a leading cause of death or severe impairment among infants.
The impact can result in epilepsy, developmental delay, motor impairment, neurodevelopmental delay, and cognitive impairment. Usually, the severity of impairment cannot be determined until a child is three to four years old, but the incident will be given a grade which can indicate outlook. We were given grade 3 which is the most severe and my son is severe but there are lots of babies given this stance who go on to prove all the doctors wrong.

When does hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy occur?
HIE is most common in full-term infants, although it does occur in premature infants, as well. The timing and severity of asphyxia can affect the area of the brain that sustains the injury.

At 40 weeks, the degree of hypoxia correlates to the area of the brain that is injured; mild hypoxia will affect the parasagittal white matter while severe hypoxia affects the putamen, thalamus, and paracentral white matter. The area of the brain that is affected will have a significant bearing on symptoms the child experiences.

What are the risk factors and causes of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy?
Asphyxia is the most significant risk factor for HIE. The severity and length of oxygen deprivation affects whether hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy occurs and how severe it is. Events that lead to asphyxia include, but are not limited to:
  • ·         Acute maternal hypotension
  • ·         Blood containing less oxygen due to poorly functioning lungs
  • ·         Cardiac complications
  • ·         Injury from cephalopelvic disproportion
  • ·         Injury from umbilical cord complications
  • ·         Impaired blood flow to the brain during birth
  • ·         Interruption in breathing or poor oxygen supply
  • ·         Intrapartum hemorrhage
  • ·         Medical negligence
  • ·         Prolapsed cord
  • ·         Placental abruption
  • ·         Pressure to the cranium that changes it shape, resulting in bleeding or decreased blood flow
  • ·         Ruptured vasa previa
  • ·         Stress of labour and delivery
  • ·         Trauma
  • ·         Uterine rupture 

If you have found this page by searching HIE because you are facing this too, I am linked to some amazingly supportive groups on Facebook which have been my saviour, so email me and I will try and help, support and guide you to a place where you can gain more knowledge than any professional can give you. fromlauren.x@gmail.com

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