Labor and delivery is often a difficult process for babies. A successful delivery depends on many things going right—the baby’s position, the baby’s size, the forcefulness of the mother’s contractions, and the position of the umbilical the cord, to list a few. Fortunately, medical science has advanced and we now have the technology to predict, anticipate, identify and correct for most dangers. However, when obstetricians and nurses make mistakes, the consequences for the baby and family can be catastrophic.
Multiple mechanisms can lead to oxygen deprivation of the unborn baby, including dysfunctional placenta, umbilical cord compression, maternal hypotension, and infections. The umbilical cord delivers not only nutrients but vital oxygen. Any disruption to this lifeline can quickly lead to brain damage or fetal death. A compromised cord is a threat throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Asphyxia is also a danger after the baby is born if there is an obstruction or weakened lung function.
In each of these critical stages of development, childbirth, and post-partum care, the actions, inaction, or wrong decisions of medical professions may lead to permanent harm or fatality. Our experienced trial lawyers are committed to securing justice and full compensation for medical negligence. Based in the Cleveland and Elyria areas, The Becker Law Firm has extensive experience in birth injury litigation. Our Ohio birth injury attorneys take cases statewide and assist in lawsuits in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.
Call (440) 252-4399 for a free consultation to find out how we can help.
Causes of Oxygen Deprivation During Labor and Delivery
- Placental problems
- Contractions that are too close together
- Prolapsed umbilical cord
- Preeclampsia and eclampsia
- Fetal Distress
- Too much medication (Pitocin, Cytotec, Cervidil) causing excessive uterine stimulation
- Shoulder dystocia (where the baby is trapped and contractions can squeeze the neck)
Injuries Caused By Oxygen Deprivation
Lack of oxygen during labor and delivery can cause several types of complications:
- Developmental Delays: The baby’s brain must receive a continuous supply of oxygen during labor and delivery. Cutting off that supply for too long, or providing too little oxygen for a prolonged period of time can cause irreversible damage as brain cells die. Developmental delay injuries include problems with gross motor skills, fine motor skills, language skills, cognitive abilities and social skills. The degree of injury depends on the amount and length of oxygen deprivation. It can take years to determine the full extent of injury to a child with developmental delays. Although brain scans can reveal the physical damage, the only way to know how that damage will affect a child is to monitor her development.
- Cerebral Palsy: Cerebral palsy mainly refers to a type of impaired motor function caused by damage to the brain. That damage can be caused by lack of oxygen near birth. Children with cerebral palsy require a lifetime of medical, surgical, and therapeutic care to live up to their full potential. Like developmental delays, cerebral palsy cannot be diagnosed immediately after birth. However, the signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy are usually apparent by the time a child reaches the age of two.
- Wrongful Death: Prolonged lack of oxygen can cause the wrongful death of a child. Physicians and nurses are trained to recognize warning signs that a baby is not getting enough oxygen during labor and delivery. Failure to act on those warning signs will prevent the baby from getting much-needed oxygen. The baby’s organs will begin failing, and the baby might die before birth (stillbirth) or shortly after birth.
Other injuries caused by oxygen deprivation include low IQ, profound mental retardation, blindness, and/or deafness. Extended anoxia results in fetal death or stillbirth. Hypoxia can also damage the developing baby’s heart, lungs, and other organs, manifesting in a range of health problems at birth.
Birth Injury Litigation Based on Lack of Oxygen
Trial lawyers Michael Becker and Pamela Pantages have secured verdicts and settlements for brain damage and death related to lack of oxygen caused by prolapsed umbilical cords and anoxia secondary to abruption.
Asphyxia litigation centers on proving negligence in preventive care or response to dangers, including failure to:
- Provide intrauterine resuscitation (in threatened fetal distress)
- Perform a non-stress test (NST) during pregnancy
- Recognize fetal distress (via fetal heart monitor, ultrasound) and rescue the fetus
- Recognize fetal anemia and rescue the fetus
- Give prophylactic antibiotics to prevent infection
- Diagnose and treat intrauterine infection
- Perform a timely Caesarean section
- Provide steroids to premature infants (in utero or after birth)
- Transfer distressed infants to neonatal intensive care (NICU)
- Monitor newborns with pulmonary problems
- Appropriately resuscitate a fetus or newborn
- Failure to appropriately monitor the newborn baby in the nursery
Our Ohio birth injury lawyers and on-staff medical professionals have the technical medical knowledge and access to experts needed to demonstrate liability in these complex cases. If you believe that preventable oxygen deprivation caused your tragedy, please contact us today for a free case evaluation. We have investigated hundreds of birth injury malpractice cases, and we are well-equipped to review your child’s medical records and tell you if the doctors and nurses should have done more.
Contact The Becker Law Firm at (440) 252-4399 or fill out and submit an online contact form. We offer free initial consultations.