There are few things as heartbreaking as planning and preparing for a new life only to have it ripped away at the last minute. While modern medicine has done a lot to improve a child's chances of survival during birth, there are still cases every year where newborn babies pass away. Perinatal asphyxia can be fatal or cause severe brain damage if not treated properly and within a certain amount of time.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, perinatal asphyxia, also called birth asphyxia, occurs when there is “an inadequate intake of oxygen by the baby during the birth process –before, during or just after birth.” This lack of oxygen can affect the child's organs as well as his or her brain.
The Seattle Children's Hospital states that there are “[t]wo stages of injury that can happen with birth asphyxia.” The first of these stages occurs within the first few minutes the child is without oxygen. At this stage, cells can become damaged from the “initial lack of blood flow and oxygen.” The next stage is called reperfusion injury. This stage “can last for days or even weeks. This injury occurs after restoration of normal blood flow and oxygen to the brain, and is due to toxins released from the damaged cells.”
If a baby suffers from mild or moderate asphyxia, he or she may recover fully from the lack of oxygen. However, “[b]abies whose cells did not get enough oxygen for a longer time may have permanent injury to their brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, bowels or other organs.”
Medical Malpractice and Perinatal Asphyxia
There are numerous potential causes of perinatal asphyxia. Some of the possible causes of this condition are listed below:
- Mother's Blood Pressure: If the mother's blood pressure is too high or too low this can result in birth asphyxia.
- Airway: If the baby's airway becomes blocked due to debris or deformation then this can result in a lack of oxygen.
- Anemia: If the baby or the mother does not have enough oxygen flowing in their bloodstream then this can result in the child developing this condition.
- Umbilical Cord Prolapse: Another way a baby could lack sufficient oxygen is if the cord exits the uterus before the child.
- Placental Abruption: Perinatal asphyxiation can also occur if there is placental abruption. This is when the placenta separates from the lining of the uterus.
As a lack of oxygen can cause significant brain damage, damages to other organs, and even death, it is imperative that doctors and other medical professionals assisting with the birth take fast action if a baby is showing signs of distress. For example, an obvious case where emergency intervention would be needed is if a child is born not breathing and blue. In this instance, efforts should be made immediately to restore respiration. If a child's distress is not so readily observable, doctors should still be monitoring and watching for any symptoms of this and other conditions that can arise soon after birth. Failure to abide by the proper standard of care during birth can result in liability if a doctor, nurse, or other individual is negligent.
Contact A Philadelphia Birth Injury Attorney
If your child has suffered or passed away because he or she was deprived of oxygen at birth and you believe that a medical error was committed, please do not hesitate to contact the law firm of Gilman and Bedigian. Our compassionate and experienced attorneys are dedicated to helping our clients hold negligent individuals liable for their careless actions. Contact us today for a free case consultation by calling 1.800.529.6162, or by filling out our online contact form.