Hypoxic Brain Injury

Hypoxic Brain Injury (HBI) is caused by a lack of oxygen going to the brain. The brain requires a constant flow of oxygen to function normally. A hypoxic brain Injury occurs when that flow is disrupted, essentially starving the brain and preventing it from performing vital biochemical processes. The brain begins losing brain cells after only four minutes without oxygen which result in bruising and swelling of the brain causing brain cells to die. The level and pattern of impairment observed in HBI cases varies and is dependent on a number of factors, such as the nature and duration of the anoxic event and associated neuronal degeneration, age at injury, and the selective vulnerability of different brain regions.

Such impairment can include 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. The diminished oxygen supply can cause serious impairments in cognitive skills, as well as in physical, psychological and other functions. Common HBI-related impairments include deficits in memory, learning, attention, visuoperceptual and visuoconstructional abilities, generalized intellectual impairment, behavioral problems, and difficulties in executive functions.

Causes of HBI

Hypoxic events may affect the fetus at various stages of fetal development, during labor and delivery and in the postnatal period. Problems during pregnancy may include preeclampsia, maternal diabetes with vascular disease, congenital fetal infections, drug/alcohol abuse, severe fetal anemia, cardiac disease or problems with blood flow to the placenta. Problems during labor and delivery can include umbilcal cord occlusion, torsion or prolapse, rupture of the placenta or uterus, excessive bleeding from the placenta, abnormal fetal position, prolonged late stages of labor, or very low blood pressure in the mother. Problems after delivery can include severe prematurity, serious infections, trauma to the brain or skull, congenital malformations of the brain, or very low blood pressure in the baby