Perinatal asphyxia is a decrease in the blood flow to your baby’s tissues or a decrease in the amount of oxygen in your baby’s blood that occurs before, during, or immediately following delivery. Perinatal asphyxia is a serious condition that can have a long-lasting impact on the health of your child.
The common causes of perinatal asphyxia include placental abruption, umbilical cord obstruction, abnormal fetal development, genetic abnormalities, fetal infections, and maternal hemorrhage or illness. In some cases of perinatal asphyxia, the exact cause is never clearly identified.
Overview of Placental Abruption
One of the common causes of perinatal asphyxia is placental abruption. Placental abruption happens when your placenta detaches itself from the wall of your uterus. It usually occurs after week 20 of your pregnancy. In cases where your placenta detaches from your uterine walls too early, your unborn child might not grow as expected. In extreme cases, some babies might not survive at all.
Because your placenta carries vital oxygen and nutrients from you to your baby up until its birth, placental abruption can reduce your baby’s supply of oxygen and nutrients, which could result in brain damage or other birth injuries. Your doctor should be able to diagnose a placental abruption based on observation of your symptoms and by using ultrasound for confirmation of his suspicion of placental abruption.
Symptoms of Perinatal Asphyxia
No matter which of the common causes of perinatal asphyxia led to your child’s diagnosis, the main symptom will be a newborn who appears pale and lifeless at birth. Newborns with perinatal asphyxia might show signs of injury to one or more of their organs or systems.
- The effects of perinatal asphyxia on your baby’s heart might show up as poor color or low blood pressure.
- When perinatal asphyxia affects your newborn’s lungs, it can cause difficulty breathing and low oxygen levels.
- Perinatal asphyxia that impacts your child’s brain can lead to lethargy, seizures, or coma.
- Your newborn’s kidneys might create a reduced urine output, and his liver might have trouble digesting milk.
- Your new baby’s blood-forming (hematopoietic) system might show low platelet counts and excessive bleeding.
If your newborn suffers from perinatal asphyxia, he might breathe very weakly, fail to breathe at all at birth, or have an extremely slow heart rate.
How Perinatal Asphyxia Is Treated
Your newborn might need to be resuscitated after their delivery. Resuscitation may be done with a resuscitation bag and mask that forces air into your baby’s lungs. It might also be done by inserting a breathing tube into your newborn’s throat. This procedure is called endotracheal intubation.
If perinatal asphyxia resulted from rapid blood loss, your newborn may be in shock and will be given fluids through their veins or a blood transfusion. Your newborn might require drugs to help their heart function. He might also require the use of a ventilator to support breathing. Your child might also need a transfusion of blood cells and plasma to manage problems in the blood-forming system.
The Prognosis for Your Baby After a Perinatal Asphyxia Diagnosis
If your newborn’s organs were damaged by perinatal asphyxia, organ recovery can be speedy with the right treatments. Unfortunately, it might lead to brain damage. Some brain damage might be minimal, and you can expect a completely normal prognosis for your child.
Babies who have a minimal injury to their brains may be completely normal intellectually. Babies who have moderate to severe injuries to their brains are more likely to have permanent signs of brain damage. These children will exhibit a range of cognitive disorders ranging from mild learning disorders, developmental delays, or cerebral palsy. Newborns who suffer from the most severe form of perinatal asphyxia might not survive.
Overview of Cerebral Palsy
Rather than a single disorder, cerebral palsy is a group of disorders with symptoms that will cause your son or daughter to have difficulty controlling and moving their muscles. Cerebral palsy is caused by brain injuries that happen prior to birth while your child’s brain is still developing. It can also occur because of brain damage, oxygen deprivation, or fetal infections that occur before, during, or shortly after birth.
Find a Perinatal Asphyxia Lawyer Near You
When recognition of the common causes of perinatal asphyxia leads to testing and final diagnosis, you might have the basis for a birth injury lawsuit. An attorney can help you locate the medical experts you need who can help you determine whether a birth injury caused your baby’s perinatal asphyxia.
When you are ready to hold the right people responsible for their actions and your child’s current condition, schedule a free consultation with a lawyer in your area. Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at (800) 222-9529 to speak to a perinatal asphyxia lawyer near you today.