WHAT IS HYPOXIA?
Hypoxia are both conditions where there is not enough oxygen getting to the infant’s brain. In hypoxia, blood continues to flow and deliver oxygen, but it is an inadequate amount to sustain the affected area of the brain. In anoxia, the area of the brain receives no oxygen.
Hypoxia can occur just before birth, during delivery, or immediately following birth. Hypoxia, especially, is a common type of birth injury and often leads to lifelong disabilities in these children. This includes:
- Cerebral palsy
- Cognitive delays
- Learning disabilities
- Seizure disorders
- Behavioral concerns
There are many causes of hypoxia. Hypoxia can occur because of:
- Long, difficult labor
- Decreased heart rate
- Congenital heart or pulmonary defects
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Neonatal stroke
- Airway obstruction
- Nuchal cord
- Other issues relating to the umbilical cord or placenta
Hypoxia may be the result of medical negligence and may support a birth injury case. Doctors have a responsibility to monitor infants before, during, and after delivery, including ensuring they do not face avoidable risks for this type of injury.
If your newborn has cerebral palsy or another type of brain damage as a result of anoxia (complete deprivation of oxygen) or hypoxia (partial deprivation of oxygen), you may be eligible to pursue compensation through a birth injury claim. A birth injury attorney in your state can help you understand your rights and legal options.
Hypoxia Lawyer Near Me 1-800-222-9529
HYPOXIA MAY OCCUR BECAUSE OF MEDICAL MALPRACTICE
When an infant’s brain does not get the oxygen it needs before, during, or immediately following birth, damage can occur. This type of brain damage may be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Causes of hypoxia in newborns may include:
- Problems with the placenta, including placental abruption
- A prolonged delivery
- Umbilical cord issues
- Infection in the mother or baby
- High or low blood pressure in the mother
- Severe anemia in the mother or baby
YOU MAY BE ELIGIBLE TO PURSUE A PAYOUT FOR YOUR CHILD’S CARE
When a baby’s brain goes without oxygen, the results can be catastrophic. Many cases of anoxia and hypoxia are preventable. They occur because a doctor or other medical care provider fails to uphold their duty to provide an acceptable standard of care to the mother and baby.
If your doctor failed to adequately monitor you during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, for example, they may have missed a problem with the placenta that left your child without the oxygen then needed during delivery. This could support a successful birth injury case.
To learn more about your legal options for pursuing compensation, discuss your case with a birth injury lawyer for anoxia and hypoxia familiar with birth injuries who practices law in your state. They will be able to help you:
- Understand your rights
- Determine the strength of your case
- Collect evidence to build a case for compensation
- Enlist the help of medical expert witnesses
- Prove negligence and liability
- File a claim or pursue a birth injury lawsuit
If your birth injury lawyer for anoxia and hypoxia can negotiate a settlement out of court or win a verdict on your family’s behalf, you may be eligible to recover damages that include:
- Medical care costs
- Ongoing and future care costs
- Mobility tools and therapeutic devices
- Out-of-pocket expenses related to your child’s birth injury or treatment
- Pain and suffering damages
- Mental anguish
The deadline for filing this type of lawsuit varies by state, so it is important that you schedule your free case review with a birth injury lawyer for anoxia and hypoxia near you as soon as possible. You do not want time to run out before you take legal action.
WHAT CAUSES HYPOXIA?
The most common cause of these conditions is an issue with the umbilical cord at childbirth. It may become pinched or prolapsed, affecting the amount of oxygen flowing through the newborn’s body. Other circumstances may cause these conditions even before childbirth begins.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Pediatrics, doctors and researchers classify fetal hypoxia into three subtypes:
- Preplacental Hypoxia: Both the mother and the baby suffer symptoms of hypoxia
- Uteroplacental Hypoxia: The mother does not suffer symptoms of hypoxia, but there is a problem with the placenta or circulation related to the placenta
- Post-Placental Hypoxia: Only the baby has symptoms of hypoxia, and it occurs without involving the placenta
While the outcome and lasting effects of all three types of fetal hypoxia can be similar, the diagnosis and how they are treated are sometimes different.
PRENATAL CAUSES OF HYPOXIA
Before discussing the common causes of hypoxia, it’s important to develop a quick understanding of these conditions. Hypoxia occurs if an infant gets insufficient amounts of oxygen to the brain. These conditions can result in a reduction in blood flow and subsequent brain damage if not treated promptly.
Sometimes infants experience hypoxia even before they are born. Based on a study in the journal Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, these conditions can also occur from maternal smoking. In other cases, mothers who experience anemia may be unable to provide sufficiently oxygenated blood to their unborn children.
There may be steps you could take to reduce the odds of prenatal hypoxia. For example, a doctor could prescribe iron supplements to a pregnant woman who is dealing with anemia. Doctors may also suggest that women stop smoking during pregnancy.
HYPOXIA DURING CHILDBIRTH
In some cases, hypoxia occurs as a direct result of issues with the child’s umbilical cord during the childbirth process. For example, the umbilical cord could be:
- Pinched closed.
- Prolapsed through the cervix.
Additionally, a placental abruption could cause hypoxia in a child. This condition occurs if the placenta does not remain properly attached to the uterus. Any of these issues could result in either anoxia or hypoxia which could, in turn, result in brain damage or even the death of the newborn.
TREATMENT FOR HYPOXIA IN NEWBORNS
Children who are born while experiencing oxygen deprivation may require immediate care. If a doctor did not order an emergency C-section, he or she can still take steps to help your child recover from these conditions.
In some cases, doctors may order hypothermic treatment for children who are diagnosed with hypoxia or anoxia upon birth. Hypothermic treatment involves cooling an infant’s body and bringing down their core body temperature. While this may seem counterproductive, results related to this treatment are encouraging. Studies like those performed with the NICHD Neonatal Research Network have shown that this treatment increases the odds of a child surviving. It also reduces the odds of a child developing disabilities after experiencing anoxia or hypoxia.
Additionally, doctors may employ hyperbaric oxygen treatment in some cases involving anoxia and hypoxia. This treatment involves exposing your newborn to an atmosphere that is 100% oxygen. This oversaturation of oxygen may help prevent the damage caused by anoxia or hypoxia.
Are There Treatment Options Available For Fetal Hypoxia?
There are treatment options available for fetal hypoxia, dependent on the depth and severity of your infant’s symptoms. One such treatment option for fetal hypoxia is a specialized cooling method called neonatal therapeutic hypothermia, according to a study published in Current Treatment Options in Neurology. This medical procedure lowers your infant’s temperature, then slowly raises it to a normal 98.5 degrees.
Neonatal Therapeutic Hypothermia
When your child suffers fetal hypoxia, an injury during their birth that leaves them with mild, moderate, or severe dysfunctions due to oxygen deprivation, the treatment options available are sure to be utmost on your mind as you prepare for your child’s future.
To treat fetal hypoxia, his medical team might suggest neonatal therapeutic hypothermia, a procedure used to treat oxygen deficiency suffered at birth. Your newborn’s body temperature is purposefully reduced soon after their birth to as low as 91.4 degrees using one of two cooling methods—surface cooling using cooling blankets, or endovascular cooling that uses catheters.
In neonatal therapeutic hypothermia, your son or daughter will be kept at the cooler temperature for as many as three days. At the end of the prescribed treatment timeline, your child’s temperature will slowly and carefully be raised until it once again reaches the accepted norm of 98.5 degrees.
LONG-TERM RESULTS OF HYPOXIA
Anoxia and hypoxia may result in serious brain injuries for children if not treated properly. Some children who experience these conditions may be left paralyzed. There are also a number of serious medical conditions associated with hypoxia and anoxia, including:
- Behavioral disorders.
- Cerebral palsy (CP).
If your child experienced anoxia or hypoxia before or after childbirth, you may be able to build a case against the medical professional who provided your healthcare services. A medical professional could be responsible if they acted in an unreasonable, negligent, or dangerous way. Find out more by contacting a birth injury lawyer for help right now. You could get compensation for your family’s medical expenses and other losses.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ANOXIA AND HYPOXIA
Both anoxia and hypoxia deal with a lack of oxygen flow to various body systems. Individuals with hypoxia still receive a small amount of oxygen. If left untreated, hypoxia can lead in anoxia, restricting oxygen flow completely.
GET HELP IF YOUR CHILD EXPERIENCED ANOXIA OR HYPOXIA
Aside from “What is the difference between anoxia and hypoxia?” you may also wonder who is at fault when such conditions occur. If your child’s condition was caused by an error or mistake on the part of a medical doctor, your family could be eligible to get compensation for medical expenses and other losses.
The treatments for anoxia and hypoxia could be incredibly extensive. Even with immediate treatment, your child could suffer lifelong disabilities.
A lawyer may be able to review your case if your child was diagnosed with hypoxia or anoxia. Get legal help on your side now, so you may focus on taking care of your child.
COMPARING ANOXIA AND HYPOXIA
Hypoxia occurs when an individual has restricted oxygen flow to the brain. Anoxia is more severe form of hypoxia, as it constitutes a complete lack of oxygen. Both of these conditions could result in brain damage or even death if the lack of oxygen continues for long enough.
The most severe cases of hypoxia in newborns may develop into “neonatal hypoxia-ischaemia (HI)” or even “hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).” The former refers to reduced blood flow from lack of oxygen, while the latter refers to brain damage caused by prolonged lack of oxygen and blood flow. These conditions are all very serious and require immediate medical attention.
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PERINATAL HYPOXIA LAWYER
Perinatal hypoxia is defined as oxygen deprivation that occurs immediately before and after the birth of your child. This life-changing lack of oxygen to the brain can lead to the demise of some of the brain’s cells and can result in a variety of cognitive ailments and disorders including cerebral palsy and other long-term neurologic complications.
Perinatal hypoxia is the cause of brain injury in many newborns and can result in behavioral disorders, seizures, and mental and cognitive delays. Perinatal hypoxia occurs in as many as three out of every thousand births. Up to one-fourth of births affected by perinatal hypoxia will result in infants with severe and permanent brain damage, visual dysfunction, increased hyperactivity, and epilepsy.
PERINATAL HYPOXIA CAN LEAD TO LIFELONG IMPAIRMENTS
Perinatal hypoxia occurs when there is too little oxygen getting to the baby’s brain just before, during, and after delivery. This can lead to several serious, permanent impairments including:
- Brain damage
- Cerebral palsy
- Cognitive, motor, behavioral, and social issues
- Learning disabilities
Causes of perinatal hypoxia can vary widely. They include:
- Maternal anemia
- Birth asphyxia
- Maternal smoking or drug use
- Traumatic brain injury before or during delivery
- Placental abruption
In many cases, adequate monitoring of the mother and infant throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery would be enough to identify the risk factors and possibly prevent the birth injury. Without proper monitoring, there are more likely to be birth complications as well as birth injuries.
WHAT IS HETEROTOPIC OSSIFICATION, AND WHAT CAUSES IT?
Heterotopic ossification occurs when the body begins to grow bone in an area of soft tissue where there is usually no bone. This is most common in a joint, often the elbow or hip. There is no known definitive cause of heterotopic ossification or any indication of what triggers this abnormal bone growth to occur in certain populations.
PERINATAL BRAIN DAMAGE AND HETEROTOPIC OSSIFICATION
There is some proof of a significant link between heterotopic ossification and those who suffered traumatic brain injuries. This likely explains the increased risk of these bony growths in the joints of children with cerebral palsy.
While it is not as common as a coexisting condition like epilepsy or intellectual disability, heterotopic ossification is a relatively common issue faced by children with cerebral palsy. According to a study in Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology that examined the medical records of about 200 children with a cerebral palsy diagnosis, they found that more than 15% also had heterotopic ossification.
According to this study, 16% of the patients had both cerebral palsy and heterotopic ossification. The factors that appeared to increase the risk for heterotopic ossification include:
- Those who had a quadriplegic (all four limbs involved) type of cerebral palsy.
- Those who could not walk unassisted.
- Those who underwent a previous capsular release (a minimally-invasive shoulder surgery).
- Those who had previous infections, often following a procedure.
- Those who underwent previous hip operations.
In general, they found that the children most affected by cerebral palsy are also the most at-risk of heterotopic ossification. In fact, according to this study, children who have a quadriplegic type of cerebral palsy are 17.5 times more likely to have heterotopic ossification than a child with a hemiplegic type of cerebral palsy.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF FETAL HYPOXIA?
Fetal hypoxia can have devastating effects on a newborn, leaving them with disabilities and challenges they will face for the rest of their lives. The severity of these effects can vary widely. Many factors play a role in the type of complications and how severe they are. This includes how little oxygen made it to the brain and other vital organs, how long the baby experienced reduced oxygen, and what parts of the body were affected.
Possible Effects of Different Types of Fetal Hypoxia on Your Baby
Babies who experience any type of fetal hypoxia during early pregnancy or through the second trimester may not reach their full growth potential they would have without the complication. In fact, some babies with fetal hypoxia are diagnosed with intrauterine growth restriction. This condition can both cause and be a result of decreased oxygenation.
Other complications related to any type of fetal hypoxia include:
- Metabolic concerns
- Hematologic conditions
- Damage to vital organs
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy
According to Benioff Children’s Hospital, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy is a type of brain damage caused by hypoxia. It can lead to many lifelong problems for children. This may include:
- Intellectual disabilities and other cognitive dysfunction
- Behavioral concerns
- Cerebral palsy
All types of hypoxia, including both chronic hypoxia during development and acute hypoxia during delivery, can cause changes in the tissues of the heart that alter function. These children may be at an increased risk of cardiovascular issues later in life.
WHAT IS THE DURATION OF A FETAL HYPOXIA DIAGNOSIS?
A fetal hypoxia diagnosis can have effects that last a lifetime. Fetal hypoxia can take place during pregnancy, labor, or delivery. When a fetus does not get enough oxygen, the results can include cerebral palsy, retinopathy, chronic lung disease, hearing loss, cardiac problems, and death during the weeks before or after delivery.
WARNING SIGNS THAT A PREGNANT WOMAN MIGHT BE HYPOXIC
The obstetric team should take great care in monitoring pregnant women who have an increased risk of hypoxia due to the mother:
- Living at a high altitude and receiving less oxygen
- Having a pre-existing cardiovascular disease like pulmonary hypertension, heart failure, or cyanotic heart disease
- Having anemia
- Having a blood disorder, like sickle cell anemia
- Having an infection, like an acute respiratory infection
- Having chronic inflammation
These conditions can limit the mother’s oxygen intake and her ability to deliver sufficient oxygen to the fetus. It might be necessary to administer oxygen to the mother or take other measures to increase the delivery of oxygen to the fetus.
THERE ARE MANY CONDITIONS ASSOCIATED WITH FETAL HYPOXIA
When hypoxia is chronic and affects the fetus early, the baby may not reach full size. Intrauterine growth restriction can be both a cause and an effect of fetal hypoxia. According to a study published in the International Journal of Pediatrics, babies who go without full oxygen either before, during, or after delivery may also experience:
- Meconium aspiration
- Metabolic concerns
- Hematologic conditions
- Low birth weight
- Increased risk of infant mortality
One of the most common issues associated with fetal hypoxia is hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. This type of brain damage can result in intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, behavioral concerns, and more, as well as seizures and cerebral palsy.
Chronic hypoxia during development can also cause damage to the heart, leading to an increased risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions later in life.
DIAGNOSING AND TREATING FETAL HYPOXIA
When hypoxia occurs in the uterus, fetal oximetry and other testing are often used to diagnose the condition. Symptoms of intrauterine growth restriction may also play into a prenatal diagnosis. When hypoxia occurs just before, during, or immediately after delivery, symptoms after birth may lead to a diagnosis. According to Benioff Children’s Hospital, seizures are a common early sign of hypoxic brain injury.
Initial treatment may include medications to stop seizures and support breathing and other body processes. In some cases, lowering the baby’s body temperature and inducing hypothermia can help reduce the implications of fetal hypoxia. A better neurological outcome may be possible for selected infants who qualify for this treatment.
Many children who suffer complications related to fetal hypoxia will require lifelong monitoring, in addition to medication and therapy for related medical conditions.
PRE-ECLAMPSIA AND FETAL HYPOXIA
If the mother develops pre-eclampsia during the pregnancy, medical personnel must take immediate measures to save the mother’s life and to avoid harm to the fetus. If it is severe, the fetus could sustain significant harm from a lack of oxygen. If pre-eclampsia occurs before 33 weeks of gestation, there is a high likelihood of fetal mortality and morbidity. Both the mother and baby have a higher than average risk of developing premature cardiovascular disease in the future.
HOW FETAL HYPOXIA AFFECTS THE DEVELOPMENT OF A FETUS
In order to survive, a fetus that is not getting enough oxygen will shift its energy to life support functions, sacrificing the development of other organs and body systems. The blood supply to the brain, heart, and upper body will increase. As a result, the blood flow to the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, and legs will decrease, adversely impacting the development of those areas.
If the insufficient oxygen worsens or continues, eventually the fetus will sustain damage to the heart and brain. At that point, the fetus can die if not delivered within a matter of days. Even if delivered in time to save its life, the baby can experience lifelong impairments from the damage the hypoxia caused. Also, these babies have a higher risk of developing hypertension later in life.
TREATING FETAL HYPOXIA
According to Mayo Clinic, the obstetrician should perform a biophysical profile to assess the health of the fetus. If the biophysical profile reveals abnormalities or the mother or pregnancy has risk factors for hypoxia or other complications, the doctor should continue to monitor the mother and fetus closely. Sometimes it is necessary to deliver the baby early or immediately.
A fetal biophysical profile consists of:
- A nonstress test to monitor the fetal heart rate and
- A fetal ultrasound to check the baby’s breathing, heart rate, amniotic fluid level, and muscle tone
FETAL HYPOXIA DURING LABOR AND DELIVERY
The baby can receive insufficient oxygen during labor or delivery because of several factors, which can include:
- The labor goes on for an unusually long time.
- The contractions are too strong or too close together.
- The baby is in a breech position or some other non-optimal presentation when going through the birth canal.
- The baby is too large for vaginal delivery.
- The mother is in medical distress.
- The pregnancy lasts well beyond the weeks of a typical pregnancy.
The medical personnel has several options for dealing with these situations, depending on the details of the individual case. Failure to monitor or respond promptly to problems during labor and delivery can cause permanent harm to the baby from a lack of oxygen.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT FETAL HYPOXIA
Fetal hypoxia can impact a person’s development, cognitive abilities, and life path. Damage to the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract can be permanent and debilitating.
Your right to recover damages will depend on your state’s laws about birth injuries. Some states have programs with strict rules that govern these situations. These programs often have short deadlines for taking action against the party whose carelessness caused or contributed to the harm your baby suffered. If you miss the deadline or any of the other requirements, you could lose the right to go after money damages.
Depending on your state and the facts of your case, you might be able to recover compensation for the medical expenses, ongoing therapies and interventions, life care, and disability. These cases are sophisticated litigation. You should work with someone who has experience navigating birth injury cases.
UNDERSTANDING THE EFFECTS OF FETAL HYPOXIA
The effects of fetal hypoxia vary depending on:
- When the baby was without adequate oxygen
- How long the baby was without adequate oxygen
- What organs or parts of the brain were affected by the lack of adequate oxygen
- A number of other factors
In general, some of the most common effects of fetal hypoxia include:
Damage Caused by Chronic Hypoxia During Development
According to a study published in the International Journal of Pediatrics, babies who do not get the oxygen they need during key stages of development may experience intrauterine growth restriction, which can result in low birth weight and other complications. In addition, they may face metabolic and hematologic concerns that require treatment or ongoing monitoring.
Damage to the Brain
Any type of fetal hypoxia can lead to brain damage known as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. According to Benioff Children’s Hospital, this type of brain damage can cause developmental delays, intellectual disabilities, and other cognitive dysfunction; cerebral palsy; and seizure disorders.
Damage to the Heart and Other Organs
Both acute and chronic hypoxia can lead to problems with the cardiovascular system later in life, including an increased risk of heart disease. This is because hypoxia leads to both morphological and functional changes in the heart. Other organs, such as the kidneys or the bowel, may also suffer damage because of hypoxia.
TREATMENTS AND OUTCOMES IN CHILDREN WHO SUFFERED FETAL HYPOXIA
The treatment for fetal hypoxia depends greatly on the size and gestational age of the infant. In some cases, doctors must deliver an infant early in order to help them get the proper oxygen levels. Premature infants and those who are extremely small may need extra support and care to survive.
Some full-term infants may benefit from hypothermia therapy, which requires lowering the body temperature to reduce the risk of neurological damage. This has been effective in improving the outcome for many survivors, including some who would likely pass away without this type of treatment.
Many children who experienced hypoxia during gestation or delivery have lasting impairments, although these vary in severity. Depending on their individual needs, they may require ongoing monitoring, therapy, anti-seizure medications, and drugs to reduce spasticity.
Many of the treatments and types of medical care necessary for babies who suffered fetal hypoxia are costly. You may be able to hold a doctor liable for the costs of your baby’s treatment.
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.
LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT CAUSES HYPOXIA
Once you understand what causes anoxia and hypoxia during childbirth, you may want to take steps to hold a doctor or other medical professional responsible. If so, the Birth Injury Lawyers Group may be able to offer the help you need. Members of our team can answer your questions and review your specific case during a free consultation. Reach out to a member of our team by calling (800) 215-4455 or filling out our online contact form.