The best way to avoid the negative effects of fetal hypoxia is to prevent it or limit how long the vital organs go without adequate oxygen. This means prompt treatment and care. In addition, some newborns show better outcomes following hypothermia treatment, according to Benioff Children’s Hospital.
As the baby grows and develops, therapy can help many children overcome or learn to adapt to many of the remaining effects of fetal hypoxia. Medications may also help control effects such as seizures, spasticity, and attention deficit concerns.
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Understanding the Possible Effects of Fetal Hypoxia
Fetal hypoxia can affect an infant in many ways. Almost any vital organ can be damaged if it does not receive adequate oxygen, and intrauterine growth restriction can be both a cause and an effect of hypoxia that occurs early in development. This could mean the child is born with low birth weight and many other related challenges.
Even when hypoxia occurs just before, during, or immediately after delivery, there can be serious consequences. Babies who do not receive adequate oxygen at any point during development or delivery may be at risk for:
- Meconium aspiration
- Metabolic concerns
- Hematologic conditions
- Cognitive dysfunction and intellectual disabilities
- Cerebral palsy
- Other effects of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy
Research also links both acute and chronic fetal hypoxia with several changes in the tissues and functions of the heart. This means the child may be at an increased risk for heart disease and other cardiovascular issues later in life.
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Treatments to Help Mitigate and Overcome the Effects of Fetal Hypoxia
Prompt medical care to ensure the baby gets the oxygen they need is the best way to reduce the risk of severe, lifelong organ or brain damage. However, for some infants, there is another promising treatment to reduce the risk of damage even after going without adequate oxygen. This requires doctors to lower the baby’s core body temperature.
While this type of hypothermia therapy is not always appropriate for all babies, and cannot be used on most premature infants (as supported by a study published in Early Human Development), it can improve the neurological outcome for some children. Doctors must begin this treatment quickly after birth for it to have the desired effect, so a quick diagnosis—or a prenatal diagnosis, when possible—is key.
Treating Damage Caused by Fetal Hypoxia
If the infant does suffer damage to their vital organs or brain, therapy in combination with medications may help them recover to their fullest potential. For example, physical therapy and speech therapy for children with cerebral palsy may be able to help them walk and talk, allowing them much more independence as adults. Medication to reduce spasticity and control seizures may also be necessary for these children.
Other treatments to allow vital organs to heal may be necessary if other organs suffered damage.
You May Be Able to Pursue a Birth Injury Lawsuit Based on Your Child’s Fetal Hypoxia
In some cases, fetal hypoxia may occur because of a preventable birth injury. In others, it is not preventable, but your doctor should catch it quickly and offer a diagnosis and treatment with proper monitoring. Even chronic hypoxia relatively early in pregnancy is diagnosable if your doctor monitors your pregnancy closely. You may have grounds to pursue a case against your doctor or hospital if:
- Your doctor caused your child’s hypoxia because of medical negligence
- If your doctor failed to diagnose your child’s fetal hypoxia
- If your doctor did not provide adequate treatment for your child’s hypoxia and the lasting effects
- If the doctor or hospital otherwise committed medical malpractice
You should discuss your case with a birth injury attorney who practices medical malpractice law in your state. This is the best way to learn more about the strength of your case, any deadlines that may apply in your case, and other important information. Most birth injury attorneys offer free case reviews and handle these cases based on contingency. Your family only pays if they recover a payout on your behalf.
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Talk to a Local Birth Injury Lawyer About Your Child’s Fetal Hypoxia
If your child required medical treatment or has lasting effects because of a preventable birth injury such as fetal hypoxia, the Birth Injury Lawyers Group is here for you. You will be provided with the support you need to take legal action, including connecting you with an attorney in your state who understands cases like yours.
Call today at (800) 222-9529, and let the team find the right attorney for your family.