Soon-to-be parents may have read about Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) online or in books, but it is very difficult to find information that makes HIE easy to understand.
First, let’s break each term down. “Hypoxic” means lack of oxygen in the brain or blood. “Ischemic” is an inadequate supply of blood to a part of the body, caused by partial or total blockage of an artery. “Encephalopathy” indicates dysfunction in the brain.
When put together, HIE is when the brain has been unable to get enough oxygen and blood flow. The brain begins to experience cell death if it goes without sufficient oxygen for four minutes. When a person can’t breathe for too long a time, HIE is the outcome. This can happen from respiratory failure, blocked or ruptured vessel, carbon monoxide, choking, strangling, drowning, high altitudes, smoke inhalation, drug overdose, injury to the trachea, extremely low blood pressure and more.
When damage is severe, a newborn may develop cerebral palsy, delayed physical development, mental disabilities, and seizures. They may become comatose, no longer respond visually to light, or may even have stopped breathing. In most extreme cases, HIE results in death.
According to MedScape.com, HIE causes an approximate 840,000 neonatal deaths worldwide. Those who survive HIE may need extensive medical treatment along with specialized care, therapy, and education to overcomes the injury to the greatest extent possible.
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