What Happens When a Baby Is Deprived of Oxygen at Birth?

Affects of Asphyxiation on Babies

Out of all the babies born full term in the United States, around 3 in 1,000 will suffer some degree of brain damage. Asphyxiation, or being deprived of oxygen, is the leading cause of brain damage in infants. Infants born prematurely are at an even greater risk of being deprived of oxygen. Today, we review the various consequences that happen when a baby is deprived of oxygen at birth.

Asphyxia Can Cause Brain Damage

Birth asphyxia happens if a baby does not get access to an adequate supply of oxygen before, during, or immediately after birth. As the brain requires oxygen to function, when its oxygen levels are low, even for a short period of time, brain damage is the result. This is dependent on the amount of oxygen the infant was deprived of and how promptly and effectively medical staff were to take corrective action to remedy this issue.

How Does Asphyxiation Happen?

Asphyxiation can occur due to several reasons. Some of these include but are not limited to the following:

  • Mother did not have enough oxygen in her blood
  • Placenta separated early
  • Complications with the umbilical cord during birth
  • Infection
  • Blocked airway
  • Anemia
  • High or low blood pressure in the mother

Symptoms of Birth Asphyxiation

Birth asphyxia symptoms to watch out for include the following:

  • Pressure on the umbilical cord
  • Low heart rate
  • Mother’s blood pressure is low
  • Baby is not breathing
  • Baby’s skin color is blueish or pale
  • Baby is experiencing seizures

Other Ways A Lack of Oxygen Can Harm an Infant

Inadequate oxygen supply can lower the baby’s heart rate, blood pressure, and the flow of blood from the baby’s heart. As a result, organs and tissues cannot get enough blood, which can severely damage the baby’s cells. A baby’s brain, heart, lungs, and kidneys can all be harmed due to a lack of proper oxygen.

If medical staff does not immediately detect asphyxia and appropriately respond, the baby could suffer severe consequences. Emergency measures must be taken for the baby to be born, such as performing an emergency cesarean section. Doctors should monitor the baby’s heartbeat, respiration, and reflexes, as well as keep an eye out for neurological problems.

If the medical staff does not recognize that birth asphyxia is happening or waits too long to respond, this could lead to permanent and catastrophic injuries to the baby’s vital organs. When not treated immediately, the baby could suffer brain damage, paralysis, seizures, Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), and/or cognitive disabilities. The baby may also develop cerebral palsy or die.

Consult with an Experienced Attorney at Our Firm

Although birth injuries are rare, medical malpractice can occur if the baby was not monitored correctly or medical staff did not recognize certain symptoms and promptly respond to resolve these issues before they become catastrophic.

If you believe your baby suffered a serious birth injury due to the negligence of a doctor or other medical professional, you could pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Did your baby suffer severe consequences due to a birth injury? Contact our firm online or call the Law Office of David A. Kates, PLLC at (718) 866-3664 to schedule a consultation.