What is HIE?
HIE stands for hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy. In simple terms HIE is a lack of oxygen to the brain. It can occur before, during, or shortly after labour. It can happen in older children too. You may also hear the term “asphyxia” or “birth asphyxia”. These mean the same thing.
HIE can cause injury to the brain. The severity of this can vary greatly. You may hear HIE and a grade from 1 which is mild to 3 which is severe. See our jargon buster for more information on the Sarnat Scale that the grading comes from). Tests are often done at an early stage to determine the extent of any brain injury. One thing to remember is that babies have a tendency to do their own thing, despite what any results may suggest!
What causes HIE?
There are many different causes of HIE. Some causes are placental abruption, umbilical cord-prolapse, uterine rupture and shoulder dystocia. There are lots of other possible causes (too many to list here). It is always best to seek a medical opinion if further details are needed.
HIE isn’t really that well known. It affects 3-4 in every 1000 babies. Peeps is raising awareness, making sure that people affected by it can get the support needed.