New Drug Offers Hope for Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy
Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a birth injury that occurs in newborns when the brain and vital organs don’t receive enough oxygen around the time of birth – primarily due to decreased red blood cells. It can either lead to death or serious, life-long disabilities. When babies survive, brain tissue has been destroyed, and they are at a high risk of developmental and/or cognitive impairments. These can include epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and other conditions.
HIE primarily afflicts full-term babies but can impact premature babies as well. It affects roughly 2-3 full-term births per 1,000. It’s most commonly attributed to asphyxia caused by placental complications, umbilical cord complications, low maternal blood pressure, maternal blood clotting, hemorrhage, aneurysm, or delivery trauma.
Babies born with HIE may experience irregular heart rate, irregular breathing, acidosis, seizures, stained meconium, unusual skin tone, organ damage, or poor reflexes.
How erythropoietin has the potential to reduce the effects of HIE
Traditionally, HIE has been treated by therapeutic hypothermia (cooling) in order to reduce the chance of death or life-long impairments. A five-year study launched by Dr. Sandra “Sunny” Juul examined the effectiveness of erythropoietin (EPO) in preventing infant death and neurodevelopmental impairment within the first week of life. The study initially enrolled 181 babies and will eventually examine 500 newborns suffering from severe to moderate HIE at 41 medical sites across the U.S.
EPO has previously been shown on brain MRIs to mitigate the effects of HIE. Additionally, newborns treated with EPO have shown overall improvement of motor functions by age 1. EPO is a naturally occurring hormone that helps increase red blood cells and brain development during pregnancy. Juul believes this drug can help prevent neurological and cognitive disorders in roughly 50 percent of all premature babies.
If your child has been impacted by HIE, let an attorney work for you
Up to 50,000 preterm babies and 12,000 full-term babies in the US with HIE may be able to receive EPO each year. This development is good news for new and soon-to-be mothers, but EPO treatment is still in early stages in regards to treating and preventing HIE.
If your child has been impacted by HIE, the complications can be devastating. What’s more, a meager settlement from the hospital may not be enough to cover all of the expenses associated with treatment and lifetime care.
That’s why you need an experienced and compassionate Georgia birth injury lawyer on your side who can negotiate with the hospital and its insurer on your behalf. Look no further than Tyrone Law Firm, PC. For more than a decade, we have successfully fought for the rights of families affected by birth injuries. Contact us today to learn how we can help you.