A question that is sometimes asked is what caused my baby’s hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, or HIE, diagnosis? The truth of the matter is that there can be many causes of HIE. From genetic issues, to developmental issues, to birth trauma, HIE is a condition that can present itself if any of the aforementioned occurs. Below we will discuss hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy and placental abruption and how placental abruption can lead to a hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy diagnosis.

Remember, this article is here to help you get a basic understanding of these issues. Understanding can go a long way in helping families navigate this journey.


HIE can be defined as a reduced level of blood and oxygen, which causes an injury to the brain. An HIE condition can happen to babies, as well as adults (usually some form a trauma). In the context of a baby and a vaginal delivery, doctors and nurses want to be sure that they keep track of the baby’s well-being. Remember, a baby, just like an adult, needs proper blood and oxygen flow or they risk not only serious injury (a possible traumatic brain injury like HIE), but death.

Doctors and nurses can track the baby’s well-being using the electronic fetal heart monitor. The monitor can track things like the baby’s heart rate, deceleration patterns, variability, and more. All these things, in conjunction with a doctor and nurse’s observations and review of the entire situation, allows for an assessment of fetal well-being.      


Placental abruption is a medical condition in which the placenta can detach itself from the uterus. This can happen before birth. Placental abruption is an emergency due to the complications that can arise from the condition, with one serious complication being excessive bleeding. Below are some of the symptoms which can be present for placental abruption:

  • Belly pain
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Back pain during the latter part of the pregnancy

As mentioned above, placental abruption can lead to excessive bleeding in the mother. This excess bleeding, if not treated in time can have a devastating impact on the baby. Since HIE is a condition that deals with a reduced level of blood and oxygen getting to the baby which leads to a brain injury, you should be able to see how this condition can lead to an HIE diagnosis in the baby.

When mom continues to bleed excessively, this can reduce the blood and oxygen to the baby, and as a result, lead to an HIE diagnosis in some settings. Therefore, it is important for doctors and nurses to be on the lookout for mothers who may be presenting with placental abruption symptoms.

This article is brought to you from your friends at HIE Resource Place.