Perinatal asphyxia occurs late in pregnancy, usually during the days and weeks leading up to delivery, during the delivery itself, or in the first hours or days following birth. For this reason, it is usually not diagnosed during pregnancy. Instead, the doctors treating the baby following birth recognize signs of the condition and diagnose the baby.
Understanding What Causes Perinatal Asphyxia and Getting a Diagnosis
Perinatal asphyxia occurs when there is inadequate oxygen or lack of oxygen to a baby just before, during, or after birth. There are many conditions that could cause perinatal asphyxia. During late pregnancy and delivery, this could include:
- Placental abruption
- Cord compression
- Problems with anesthetic or narcotic administration
- Some infections in the baby or mother
- Meconium aspiration
- Congenital cardiac or pulmonary deformities
- Preventable birth trauma
After birth, babies may experience perinatal asphyxia because:
- Obstructed airway
- Maternal opiate use
- Respiratory depression caused by other problems
Generally, doctors diagnose perinatal asphyxia after seeing signs of a problem and running tests to confirm the diagnosis. This will include having evidence to show:
- A slow respiratory and neurological response; and
- An acute hypoxic compromise with acidaemia
Doctors confirm these conditions when the baby has an Apgar score below 7 at five minutes after birth and an arterial blood pH of less than 7 or base excess greater than 12 mmol/L, respectively. There may also be other tests and signs your doctor used to identify an issue and diagnose your child.
Perinatal Asphyxia Can Cause Lifelong Damage
Perinatal asphyxia is one of the most common causes of brain damage and death in newborns. The severity of the brain damage or damage to other organs depends greatly on the severity of the asphyxia and how long it lasted.
Perinatal asphyxia can lead to complications all over the body. This includes:
- Brain damage
- Respiratory distress and ongoing breathing issues
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Damage to the liver and kidneys
- Myocardial dysfunction
The brain damage associated with perinatal asphyxia may lead to:
- Intellectual deficits
- Learning delays
- Developmental delays
- Cerebral palsy
- Behavioral concerns
Children who experience asphyxia during gestation or as newborns may require ongoing care and support. Some do remarkably well and make a full recovery. Others require speech, physical, occupational, and other therapies to help them gain independent living and self-care skills. Outcomes vary widely because the condition can affect children in such a wide variety of ways.
You May Be Eligible to Pursue a Birth Injury Lawsuit
If your child suffered injuries because of perinatal asphyxia, it may anger you to know that their condition might have been preventable. Birth injuries and conditions related to long deliveries are often preventable. You should have a birth injury attorney near you review the facts of your case and explain if you may have a medical negligence case against the doctor or hospital.
You may be able to pursue compensation if your child suffered injuries because of:
- A preventable birth injury
- A doctor who should have called for a planned or emergency c-section
- A failure to diagnose a problem with the placenta or cord-related issues
- A missed diagnosis of perinatal asphyxia
- Delayed treatment for perinatal asphyxia
Filing a medical malpractice case against the doctor or hospital may allow you to recover damages that include:
- Past and future medical bills
- Therapy and other related care
- Ongoing care costs
- Home renovations for wheelchair accessibility, if necessary
- Purchasing a wheelchair-accessible vehicle, if necessary
- Pain and suffering damages
The best way to find out if you have a case is to reach out to an attorney who can explain your rights and legal options. If they believe you have a strong enough case to pursue legal action, they will gather evidence and call in medical expert witnesses who can confirm malpractice occurred.
Deadlines in Perinatal Asphyxia Birth Injury Cases
Your attorney can also help you understand how quickly you need to act to ensure you retain the right to pursue compensation on your child’s behalf. Each state has its own statute of limitations that creates a deadline for filing a lawsuit in this type of case.
At the same time, many states allow families of children who suffered birth injuries to toll the statute of limitations for a limited time since the full scope of birth injuries are not always apparent until the child is older. These rules can be complex, so it is best to speak with a lawyer who is familiar with the statutes in your state.
Talk to a Birth Injury Lawyer About Your Child’s Injuries Today
If your child suffered injuries and your family experienced expenses related to a perinatal asphyxia diagnosis, the Birth Injury Lawyers Group is here to help. The team will discuss your case and connect you with an attorney in your state who takes on cases like yours. The team is standing by to help your family today.
Call (800) 222-9529 now to reach someone from the Birth Injury Lawyers Group.