At one, five, and sometimes ten minutes after birth, doctors and nurses will evaluate the baby’s health using the Apgar scoring system. The score ranges from a low of zero to a high of ten. If the baby is not breathing, he must be resuscitated. If resuscitation is not quickly and timely done, then the baby may have irreversible brain damage.
Conditions causing a need for resuscitation
There are several reasons (and risk factors) that the baby may require resuscitation at birth:
- Nuchal cord: umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck
- Placental abruption
- Maternal diabetes
- Premature rupture of membranes
Steps to neonatal resuscitation
The baby’s pulse and respiration should be measured immediately after birth to determine if the baby needs resuscitation. If the baby needs assistance, or if there were risk factors present before delivery, a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) team should be present and ready to help the baby. Caregivers should take the following action:
- Providing warmth (blankets, warming lights)
- Clearing the airway (suction)
- Providing oxygen
- Ventilation with a breathing bag and mask
- Chest compressions
- Volume expanders (intravenous fluids)
If resuscitation was successful, the baby’s Apgar scores should improve.
Consequences of ineffective resuscitation
Every moment that a baby’s brain is without oxygen moves the baby closer to permanent injury. Without oxygen, the baby is at risk for:
Sometimes, it can be difficult to know whether your baby’s resuscitation team acted in accordance with the standard of care. If your child has any of these injuries after birth, contact our medical malpractice lawyers at (440) 252-4399 or send us a message online.