Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy: Damage to cells in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) from inadequate oxygen. Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy allegedly may cause death in the newborn period or result in what is later recognized as developmental delay, mental retardation, or cerebral palsy. This is an area of considerable medical and medicolegal debate.
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Last Editorial Review: 5/13/2016