The cause of birth asphyxia varies but is often preventable. It occurs any time there is an event that compromises the flow of oxygen to the baby just before, during, or immediately following delivery. Some ways this may happen include:
- Compression of the umbilical cord during a vaginal delivery
- A difficult or long delivery
- Infection in the mother or the baby
- Maternal hemorrhage
- Neonatal stroke
- Nuchal cord, when the umbilical cord wraps around the baby’s neck
- Placental abruption
- Rupture of the uterus
- Severe anemia, either in the mother or baby
- Umbilical cord prolapse or avulsion
- Uncontrolled maternal blood pressure
In some cases, it is possible to limit how long the newborn goes without adequate blood flow and oxygen. Medical care providers can often identify the complication, pursue another approach to delivery, or take other steps to address the concern immediately. While prevention is the best option, ensuring the baby’s oxygen levels return to normal as soon as possible is crucial to limiting the damage to the brain or other vital organs if birth asphyxia does occur.
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The Leading Cause of Neonatal Disability Is Hypoxia-Ischemia
The result of birth asphyxia is a condition called hypoxia-ischemia, or HI. According to a study published in Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, hypoxia-ischemia is the leading cause of disabilities and death in newborns. HI occurs when the baby does not have proper oxygen in the blood supply of the umbilical cord. When there is too little oxygen in the blood, this can be damaging to the baby’s brain and vital organs.
Because of how babies receive oxygenated blood and depend on the mother’s body to provide it for them, many complications of birth asphyxia are related to disruptions in the umbilical blood supply.
Hypoxia-ischemia may occur because:
- The cord becomes compressed during delivery.
- The cord becomes wrapped around the baby’s neck.
- The cord is delivered before the baby.
- There is another problem with the cord or the placenta itself, such as avulsion or abruption.
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Birth Asphyxia and Medical Malpractice
The causes of birth asphyxia are often preventable, yet not all causes of birth asphyxia are a basis for a medical malpractice civil suit.
In cases where the causes of birth asphyxia are preventable, doctors can take steps to address the care needs of the baby or mother. Doctors should monitor the pregnancy, labor, and delivery closely to ensure they reduce the risks of a major complication as much as possible. When a complication occurs and the care team provides an acceptable standard of care to the mother and infant, it can greatly reduce the risk of birth asphyxia.
However, not all causes are preventable. This does not mean that the injuries your child suffered will not support a civil case for medical negligence, though. When birth asphyxia occurs and the child suffers lifelong injuries, this may still be a case where the medical staff overseeing the pregnancy and delivery failed to identify any concerns and address them immediately.
A medical team has a duty to provide a certain standard of care and follow acceptable protocol even during complications such as birth asphyxia. If your child survived a difficult labor and delivery but experienced birth asphyxia, you should discuss your case with a medical malpractice lawyer near you who can determine if you have a case.
If the doctor, medical team, or hospital failed to take the available steps to prevent your child’s injury, recognize their condition, and minimize their injury, you could have a birth injury medical malpractice case against the doctor or hospital.
Taking Legal Action to Hold the Doctor Accountable
When it comes to birth asphyxia, doctors and other trained medical care providers have several essential responsibilities:
- Preventing the situation, when possible
- Identifying the problem as soon as possible
- Taking immediate action to minimize the child’s injuries
If the doctor, hospital, or another liable party failed to do any of these and your child suffered injuries as a result, you may be able to file a suit in civil court to hold them accountable and recover compensation. It is important to work with a birth injury lawyer in your state to help you assign liability, determine what happened, and navigate the process.
Your attorney will obtain the evidence needed to demonstrate your case, including enlisting the help of a medical expert witness who can verify that medical negligence played a role in your child’s injury.
Your attorney may be able to seek damages for your family that include:
- Current and future medical bills, therapy, and supportive care
- Wheelchairs, hearing aids, and other necessary devices
- Related out-of-pocket expenses
- Pain and suffering losses
- Mental anguish
- Other intangible losses
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Speak to a Team Member from the Birth Injury Lawyers Group Today
You can discuss your legal options with a member of the Birth Injury Lawyers Group team today. We work based on contingency fees, meaning that we only get paid if we obtain a settlement for your case. Get help today. Call (800) 222-9529 to learn more with a free case review.