Insufficient Amounts of Oxygen at Birth May Cause Asphyxia in Newborns
Birth asphyxia, or perinatal asphyxia, happens in approximately four in every 1,000 full-term births. It occurs in babies when they have too little oxygen during birth. The lack of oxygen may be due to unforeseen difficulties during the delivery process or it can be due to the negligence or malpractice of the medical professional delivering the baby.
Common Causes of Birth Asphyxia:
Birth asphyxia may result from deliveries that take too long or are very difficult. Other causes may be a blockage in the baby’s airway, issues with the umbilical cord or infections in the mother or baby. A baby may be at risk for birth asphyxia if the placenta separates too soon or if the baby is born prematurely.
Symptoms of Birth Asphyxia:
Symptoms of birth asphyxia may be observable by the attending doctor or medical staff before, during or after birth. Easily noticed symptoms include:
- Pale or bluish skin
- Low or abnormal heart rate
- Weak muscles
- Poor breathing
- Weak crying
Less obvious symptoms are:
- High levels of acid in the blood
- Amniotic fluid stained with meconium
- Poor circulation
- Abnormal blood-clotting
At birth, a baby is rated according to his or her heart rate, muscle tone, skin color, breathing and reflexes, and is assigned a grade known as a Apgar score. If a child’s Apgar score is low for over five minutes, the baby may have birth asphyxia.
Immediate Treatment is Necessary:
Medical professionals are trained to recognize fetal distress before, during and after birth. It is crucial that babies with birth asphyxia are identified and treated quickly as this helps minimize the effects of the condition. If the problem is noticed before the birth, a Caesarean section or emergency delivery may be necessary. After birth, a newborn with a mild form of asphyxia may just need extra oxygen until it can breathe on its own. If the asphyxia is more severe, the baby may be put on a breathing machine, undergo respiratory therapy or require medications and fluids.
If a baby suffers from a lack of sufficient oxygen at birth due to negligence or medical malpractice of a doctor or other medical professional, the family may be entitled to recover medical expenses and other monetary damages. An experienced birth injury lawyer may be able to help.