Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) occurs when a newborn baby’s oxygen and blood flow to the brain are reduced resulting in brain injuries. 

It develops from the prenatal to the postnatal period. But it often occurs during labor, when infants are under extreme stress due to uterine contractions.

Generally, a child who suffers from HIE will most likely go on to have cerebral palsy and other life-long disabilities. In the United States, it occurs in 1 to 3 for every 1000 births. And the percentage of infants diagnosed with cerebral palsy ranges from 15% to 28%. 

Read more: Birth Injuries: HIE Puts Infants at Risk During Childbirth

The death of Sha-asia Washington on July 3 at Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn has brought the rising medical racism in New York in the spotlight. Washington, 26, died of medical malpractice after giving birth to her daughter Khloe, becoming one of the many black women who have died of complications during delivery. Washinton’s death has given rise to an urgency to tackle the prevalent racial prejudices in NYC hospitals. 

Read more: Black Woman’s Death During Childbirth Brings Up Medical Racism

A woman in Prince George’s County, Maryland, won the largest medical malpractice verdict in US history when a Baltimore judge awarded her $205 million in July 2019. 


Erica Byrom sued the John Hopkins Bayview Medical Centre after complications during the birth of her daughter, which resulted in a serious brain injury to the now 5-year-old girl. The jury awarded her $229 million, but state cap reduced the awarded amount to $205 million soon after.

Read more: Maryland Woman Won the Largest Medical Malpractice Verdict in History

When people think of medical malpractice, they often only think about the doctors involved and the level of human error that they display. However, there are plenty of occasions whereby medical malpractice is caused by defective medical products and devices. Sadly, these can cause significant injury to you and/or your child during birth which isn’t always reversible.

Read more: Medical Devices and Birth Injuries

What is Erb’s Palsy?

Erb's palsy, also known as brachial plexus palsy, is a condition whereby your baby cannot use one or both of their arms, shoulders, or hands adequately. The condition presents through the affected limbs being weak, lacking feeling, or completely paralyzed. It is caused by the collection of nerves around your baby’s shoulder being damaged during a difficult delivery. 

Unlike cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy results from direct damage to these nerves as opposed to damage to your child’s brain. Because this injury occurs around the time of birth, it is considered a birth injury.

Read more: Birth Injuries and Erb’s Palsy

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