A doctor in a Texas hospital said my baby had hypoxia at birth. What is hypoxia?


Painter Law Firm's frequently asked question (FAQ) series

December 4, 2018

Hypoxia is a medical term that means that the baby went without enough oxygen for some amount of time before, during, or immediately after birth. If it was long enough to cause a permanent brain injury, it’s called a hypoxic brain injury. In some situations, a baby may suffer from a period of anoxia, which means a total absence of oxygen for some length of time. All of these are dangerous and life-threatening conditions.

Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a type of permanent brain injury where the baby didn’t receive enough oxygen or blood supply.

Common symptoms of HIE include:

· The baby has a reduced heart rate

· The baby has weak muscle tone

· The baby has trouble breathing

· The baby’s skin color is pale or blue-tinted

· Blood work shows a high amount of acid (the doctor may describe it as “acidotic”)

· The amniotic fluid is stained with meconium (a bowel movement of the baby before birth)

Babies with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy have a wide range of injuries and impairments, which largely vary based on how long they went without an adequate oxygen and blood supply. OB/GYN, neonatology, and pediatric neurology physicians often speak in terms of mild, moderate, and severe HIE.

Some of the radiology scans and studies that doctors frequently order to assess the extent of HIE include CTs, MRIs, electroencephalograms (EEGs), and ultrasounds.

If your doctor has mentioned hypoxia, anoxia, or HIE—or if you suspect that your baby may have this kind of birth injury—it’s important to contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. There are issues that need to be investigated early in the baby’s life. A good Texas medical malpractice attorney can take this weight off your shoulders and, if there was negligence, start working on getting the money you’ll need to take care of your child.

We are here to help

Click here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form or call us at 281-580-8800, for a free initial consultation.


Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas.

Robert Painter

Robert Painter is a medical malpractice lawyer at Painter Law Firm PLLC.


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