Severe birth asphyxia occurs when the child experiences a high level of oxygen deprivation. Birth asphyxia may be mild, moderate, or severe. The severity of the baby’s asphyxia does not necessarily correlate to how much they may be affected by their birth injury later in life. However, those who experience extremely low oxygen levels for more than a short time are more likely to have serious complications and lasting impairments.
In many cases, doctors may not know how severely your child’s birth asphyxia restricted their blood flow or for exactly how long. The Apgar assessments performed one minute and five minutes after your baby’s birth will help them understand the severity of the asphyxia and your child’s immediate needs.
Apgar testing also offers some insight into the damage done by the oxygen deprivation. For example, a study in Frontiers in Pediatrics found that 50 to 72% of children who experience birth asphyxia and have a low Apgar score during their five-minute assessment have kidney concerns.
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There Are Two Factors Considered for Severe Birth Asphyxia
In general, the level of oxygen deprivation experienced is the key component determining the severity of neonatal asphyxia. Two factors contribute to this:
How Much Oxygen the Baby Received
There are two ways that neonatal asphyxia can affect a baby:
- Anoxia: Anoxia occurs when the blood no longer flows at all, and no oxygen reaches the baby’s organs or brain.
- Hypoxia: Hypoxia occurs when there is a slowing down of the blood flow, or there is not adequate oxygenation of the blood.
As you can likely imagine, anoxia is very serious. To prevent severe complications, the doctor must immediately deliver the baby. Hypoxia can cause severe birth asphyxia as well, depending on the extent to which a baby is deprived of adequate oxygen.
How Long the Oxygen Deprivation Lasted
If the loss of oxygen in the blood is only minimal, it may take much longer for hypoxia to damage the brain or other vital organs. In some cases, a slightly compromised oxygen flow for a brief period may not cause lifelong injuries.
However, when a baby does not receive sufficient oxygen for an extended period of time, this can quickly compromise a baby’s organ systems. The newborn may face severe injuries if the medical team does not take steps to intervene and address this complication.
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Severe Birth Asphyxia and Apgar Scores in Newborns
Poor early Apgar scores may indicate severe birth asphyxia. Severe oxygen deprivation during delivery, whether caused by anoxia or hypoxia, generally results in low Apgar scores. On a scale of zero to two, a low score could be indicated by a zero or one. These quick assessments consider the baby’s coloring, respiration, reflexes, and more.
The initial Apgar assessment recorded at one minute after birth evaluates how the baby tolerated labor and delivery. Your child’s score on this assessment could indicate severe birth asphyxia. A score of a two on all evaluated categories indicates normal conditions. However, a score of one or below on the Apgar categories could be cause for concern.
It is important to note, however, that babies with low initial Apgar scores may change when they are re-evaluated several minutes later. A baby with a score of a one or zero may score a two during their five-minute assessment. While the Apgar score is an early indicator, it is important to use all the available evaluations to best understand your child’s condition.
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Severe Birth Asphyxia May Support a Medical Malpractice Claim
If your child suffered severe birth asphyxia, your case may support a medical malpractice suit against the doctor or hospital. If you can demonstrate that medical negligence caused their injury or contributed to their impairments, you can build a case to hold the liable parties accountable. Working with a birth injury attorney familiar with your state’s laws can make this process easier and less stressful.
Your lawyer will help you build a case and handle your legal actions based on contingency fees. If an attorney believes they can prove your child was the victim of medical malpractice, you may be eligible to recover compensation that includes:
- Current medical bills related to your child’s injury, diagnosis, and treatment
- Future medical care and supportive care costs
- The time you missed at work to care for your child
- Medical devices, assistive devices, and other prescribed gear
- Related expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Other intangible losses
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Talk with Our Team Today at No Cost to Your Family
Your family can speak with a team member from the Birth Injury Lawyers Group to get started today. We will evaluate your child’s birth injury and determine if you have a case. To get help now, call (800) 222-9529.
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