Perinatal asphyxia, also called birth asphyxia, is caused by an inadequate intake of oxygen by your baby during the birth process. When you receive this diagnosis, you are likely to want to understand how this condition will affect your child and if it could have been prevented.
Among other concerns, you might wonder what could have been done to prevent your child from suffering from perinatal asphyxia. You might wonder what tell-tale symptoms should have alerted your medical team to the possibility of perinatal asphyxia. You might also wonder if surgery could have decreased the likelihood of perinatal asphyxia in your baby.
Common causes of perinatal asphyxia include placental abruption, obstruction of the umbilical cord blood flow, and maternal hemorrhage. In addition, many birth injuries share a common cause–a difficult delivery because your baby becomes lodged in the birth canal. Because this difficulty is often the cause of birth injuries, one type of surgery that might decrease the likelihood of perinatal asphyxia in newborns is a C-section delivery.
What Is a Cesarean Delivery?
A cesarean delivery, also known as C-section delivery, means your baby will be delivered through two surgical incisions—one in your abdomen and one in your uterus. Your medical team should recommend a C-section delivery when they believe it will prove safer than vaginal delivery for you, your baby, or both of you. Some situations that might lead your doctor to choose a C-section delivery include:
- Labor that progresses too slowly
- Abnormal fetal positioning such as a breech presentation
- An abnormal fetal heart rate that indicates fetal distress
- Excessive vaginal bleeding that indicates placental abruption
A C-section delivery might lead to a longer and more painful recovery from childbirth but could result in a safer delivery of your baby.
What Is Placental Abruption?
Your placenta is normally situated in the upper portion of your uterus and is firmly attached to your uterine wall where it remains until after your baby is safely delivered. A healthy placenta is critical because it carries oxygen and nutrients from you to your unborn child. Your placenta is delivered shortly after your child is delivered.
Placental abruption happens when your placenta prematurely detaches from the wall of your uterus, usually occurring after twenty weeks of pregnancy. When placental abruption happens, your unborn child might be unable to grow as much as needed. Placental abruption might also lead to the loss of your child’s life.
Risk factors for placental abruption include high blood pressure developed during your pregnancy, advanced maternal age, blood vessel disorders, abdominal injuries, and an excessive amount of amniotic fluid.
What Are the Tell-Tale Signs of Perinatal Asphyxia?
During prenatal care visits, labor, and delivery, you or a member of your medical team might notice signs and symptoms of perinatal asphyxia. Symptoms of perinatal asphyxia may not always be immediately apparent, but might include these common symptoms:
- An abnormal fetal heart rate prior to your child’s birth
- Low fetal pH levels that might indicate excessive acid levels
- Poor skin color and a low heart rate at birth
- Decreased muscle tone and poor gasping
- Meconium (stool) stained amniotic fluid
- A poor five-minute Apgar score
- Evidence of neurological disorders
- Respiratory problems
When your physician notices these symptoms, he should perform extensive evaluations and may order additional tests to confirm his diagnosis and prepare a treatment plan to ensure a safe delivery for your unborn child.
What Does a Low Apgar Score Mean?
The Apgar test is given to your child twice–one minute after and then five minutes after their birth. The one-minute score determines how well your baby tolerated birth. The five-minute score determines how well your baby tolerates life outside your womb.
The Apgar test is done by a doctor, midwife, or nurse and quickly assesses your newborn’s breathing effort, heart rate, muscle tone, reflexes, and skin color. Each of these critical categories is scored as zero, one, or two, depending on the tester’s observations.
A normal score will range between seven and nine because a score of ten is an unusual occurrence. A low score is a sign that your baby requires medical attention or intervention to adjust to life outside of your womb. A low Apgar score might be caused by a difficult delivery, a C-section delivery, or fluid in your baby’s airway.
File a Successful Birth Injury Lawsuit
If your child suffered or continues to suffer from perinatal asphyxia complications, and you believe a C-section delivery might have decreased the likelihood of perinatal asphyxia in your child, an attorney can help you assign liability for your child’s injury. Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at (800) 222-9529 to meet with a lawyer near you who can help you compile and file a successful birth injury lawsuit.