HIE Awareness Day

4th April 2019 Clinical Negligence

HIE Awareness Day

Today marks the first HIE Awareness Day in the UK. This is the initiative of Peeps HIE a UK charity who are trying to raise awareness so that others know more about it and those affected by it can be better supported.

Our team supports many families dealing with HIE and I thought it would be useful on HIE Awareness Day to provide some information about this condition that many people know little about.

What Is HIE?

HIE stands for hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy which is a type of brain damage that occurs when an infant’s brain doesn’t receive enough oxygen.

What Causes HIE?

There are a number of different causes of HIE. Most of these occur before or during labour but HIE events can also occur post-delivery.

The causes include, but are not limited to:


  • Problems with blood circulation to the placenta
  • Preeclampsia
  • Congenital infections of the fetus
  • Excessive bleeding from the placenta
  • Umbilical cord incidents
  • Rupture of the placenta or fetus
  • Infections, including sepsis
  • Severe prematurity
  • Brain or skull trauma


What are the symptoms of HIE?

Symptoms of HIE vary and include hyper-alertness, irritability, eye rolling, abnormal movements and a reduced level of awareness.

The severity of the injury can vary and babies can have mild, moderate or severe symptoms of HIE.

What is the Treatment for HIE?

The treatment of HIE depends on the level of symptoms that the baby has. If a baby has moderate to severe HIE they are likely to receive treatment by way of cooling or mild hypothermia. This is where a baby’s temperature is lowered to limit the extent of the brain injury associated with HIE.

What is the Long Term Impact of HIE?

Again this depends on the severity of the symptoms. Babies with mild symptoms often have a life that is not affected by HIE whereas babies with severe symptoms may have a shortened life span with a number of ongoing problems.

Some of the long term effects of HIE include developmental delay, epilepsy, cognitive issues, motor skill development issues and neurodevelopment delays.

A number of children often go on to be diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

The JMW Clinical Negligence Team provide support for a number of families dealing with the effects of HIE as a result of unacceptable care in the antenatal period, during labour and delivery or shortly after birth. If you are dealing with a diagnosis of HIE and would like to explore your options please contact a member of our knowledgeable and friendly team to discuss things further.

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Jodie Miller is a Senior Associate Solicitor located in Manchesterin our Clinical Negligence department

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