Birth Asphyxia and Intrauterine Hypoxia Resulting in Birth Injuries

by Bruce Fagel on Mar. 04, 2013

Accident & Injury Medical Malpractice Accident & Injury  Personal Injury Accident & Injury  Wrongful Death 

Summary: Birth asphyxia happens when a baby does not receive enough oxygen before, during, or following birth. This can lead to serious brain damage or death to the baby.

Birth asphyxia or intrauterine hypoxia occurs when an infant does not receive an adequate supply of oxygen before, during, or immediately following birth.  Although many infants receive a smaller supply of oxygen during the birth process, the uterus provides a reserve supply of oxygen and blood to the infant through the placenta. 

Most infants who encounter birth asphyxia are able to be treated with stimulation after they are born and will likely not suffer any serious or permanent brain injuries.  Birth asphyxia may however cause permanent brain damage to the baby.  The extent of the damage to the brain will depend on how much oxygen is cut off, how long the infant is deprived of a proper oxygen supply, and how promptly the infant can be treated. If the oxygen supply was cut off for a short period of time and treatment is provided promptly, then the infant should fully recover.  If the lack of oxygen supply was severe and for a longer period of time, permanent and severe damage may be caused to the baby’s brain, heart, lungs, kidneys and other organs.

Birth asphyxia may be caused by the following conditions:
  • A reduction in the oxygen supply to the brain of the baby before or during birth
  • If the placenta separates from the uterus too early
  • If the umbilical cord cuts off the oxygen supply to the infant
  • If there is a difficult and prolonged delivery
  • Too high or too low blood pressure with the mother
  • If the infants airway is blocked
The examples above explain why it is important for the medical personnel to properly monitor the infant using a fetal heart rate monitor.  The fetal heart rate monitor measures the infant’s heart rate during labor.  If a medical problem arises that reduces the babies oxygen or blood supply, such as a dramatic reduction of the heart rate, the fetal heart rate monitor will alert the medical staff so they can take immediate action to prevent permanent injuries to the infant.  If the medical staff negligently fails to monitor the fetal heart rate monitor or simply ignores the warning signs, the baby can be affected by birth injuries that will permanently affect the child for life; in the worst case, the baby may die.

If the infant is experiencing birth asphyxia and treatment is not resolving the problem, an emergency cesarean section may need to be performed immediately. Most hospitals can perform a C-section within 30 minutes from a doctor’s notification; however, if the infant is suffering from severe birth asphyxia, permanent brain damage can occur within 17 minutes, so a C-Section will need to be performed faster.  If you or someone you love suffered a birth injury from medical malpractice, you may have a medical malpractice claim.  Contact Dr. Bruce Fagel right away for a free consultation.

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