Hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy


What is hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy?

Hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy is a condition in which there is a lack of oxygen and/or blood flow getting to a baby’s brain from the placenta during birth. It mainly affects the brain, but it can also affect the lungs, liver, heart, bowel and kidneys.

What causes hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy?

The exact cause of hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy is unknown. It could be caused by complications during birth such as:

  • Placental disruption which involves the placenta coming away from the uterus walls too soon.
  • Uterine rupture which is tearing of the uterus.
  • Prolonged labour which is an usually long labour.
  • Shoulder dystocia which involves a baby’s shoulders getting stuck behind the pubic bone.

What are the symptoms of hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy?

The symptoms of hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy may include:

  • Being hyper-alert
  • Irritability
  • Being overly sleepy
  • Being floppy or stiff
  • Unusual movements
  • Seizures
  • Apnoea which involves pauses in breathing
  • A decrease in awareness or responsiveness.

Have you been affected by hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy?

If you’ve been affected by hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy, The Brain Charity can support you.

We are the only charity in the UK to be here for every one of the more than 600 different neurological conditions in existence. Individually, many are rare, but combined, they affect 1 in 6 people.

We provide practical help on all aspects of living with neurological conditions, emotional support such as counselling, phone befriending and group therapy and social activities to people with brain injuries from all over the UK from our centre in Liverpool.

Looking to talk to someone?

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Phone us

Contact The Brain Charity now

Our friendly Information & Advice Officers are here to help. We endeavour to respond to all enquiries within 10 working days.

0151 298 2999

Looking to talk to someone?

  • Please tell us which neurological condition you are affected by and what you need support with.

Caring for someone with hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy

We support carers, friends and family too

Are you a carer for or relative of someone with hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy? It’s just as important for you to look after your own physical and mental wellbeing too.

The Brain Charity provides free support for carers, friends and family of people with any form of neurological condition, including brain injury, from anywhere in the UK.

We also run an additional carer advocacy service for all carers in Liverpool, regardless of which type of condition the person they care for has.

You don’t need to be a formal or registered carer

We can help you even if you don’t view yourself as a formal carer or claim Carer’s Allowance. Find out some of the ways we support carers below.

Other resources

The Brain Charity's library

The Brain Charity’s library has a range of resources related to hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy and many other disability-related issues.

Support groups

Brain & Spine Foundation Neuro Carers

A monthly online support group that provides an opportunity for carers of those who have a neurological condition to meet others and to give each other support.

Website: www.brainandspine.org.uk/supporting-you/online-support-groups/neuro-carers-social-group/

Phone: 0808 808 1000

Email: helpline@brainandspine.org.uk

Support groups at The Brain Charity

Are you interested in setting up a hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy support group, or do you already run one?

Email activities@thebraincharity.org.uk to let us know.

Alternatively, you can check out our list of related support groups here.

Other charities


PEEPS aims to support families that have been affected by hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy and provides information on the condition.

Website: www.peeps-hie.org

Phone: 0800 987 5422

Email: info@peeps-hie.org

Brain & Spine Foundation