Perinatal asphyxia can be either complete, with no oxygen getting to the brain and vital organs, or partial. Partial asphyxia is known as hypoxia, while a total lack of oxygen is anoxia. In addition, perinatal asphyxia can occur either prenatally or immediately after birth.
Prenatal asphyxia may occur because of a problem with the placenta or another cause that leads to a decrease of oxygen reaching the baby. Post-natal asphyxia affects the ability of the pulmonary system–the lungs–to exchange gases and get oxygen to the baby’s organs.
Causes and Treatment of Different Types of Perinatal Asphyxia
- Low maternal blood pressure (hypotension)
- Excess anesthesia
- Placental abruption (the premature separation of the placenta)
- Placental insufficiency
Prenatal hypoxic or anoxic injuries may occur because:
- Excess oxytocin does not allow the uterus to relax properly
- Prolonged and stressful labor and delivery
- Knotting of the umbilical cord around the neck of the infant
- Other birth injuries that reduce the baby’s ability to breathe
When a baby is born with any type of perinatal asphyxia, the immediate concern will focus on ensuring breathing, blood flow, and oxygenation. According to Seattle Children’s Hospital, these babies may also need:
- Nitric oxide treatment
- Respiratory support, including mechanical respiration in some cases
- Body cooling (hypothermia) for full-term infants
- Medication to control blood pressure
- Dialysis if there are kidney issues
- Treatment for seizures
- Intravenous (IV) nutrition if there is damage to the bowels
Effects of Hypoxic and Anoxic Perinatal Asphyxia
Depending on how long the baby’s organs went without oxygen (anoxia), or how low their oxygen supply was (hypoxia), the effects and outcome of perinatal asphyxia could vary widely. Some possible effects include:
- Developmental delays
- Intellectual disabilities
- Cerebral palsy or other physical disabilities
- Injuries to other organs, including the kidneys, heart, and digestive system
Even when the brain injury the baby suffers because of lack of oxygen is relatively minor, there may be lasting effects. This may manifest as behavioral issues or learning disabilities, and appear around the time the child begins school.
Anoxic asphyxia is particularly devastating, and the infant requires immediate emergency medical care. It only takes a few minutes before brain cells begin to die without oxygen. Infants who suffer a complete loss of oxygen, or a near-complete loss, may go into a coma, have seizures, or even pass away.
Perinatal Asphyxia May Support a Birth Injury Lawsuit
In many cases, perinatal asphyxia is preventable. This is true especially when it occurs postnatally. Prenatal causes are more difficult to prevent, but doctors should be able to recognize many of the signs and risk factors by monitoring the mother and child throughout pregnancy. This should allow them to take quick action if something occurs, and the baby or mother is at risk of serious injury.
If your newborn suffered lasting damage or passed away because of a doctor who failed to diagnose or provide adequate care, or who failed to prevent birth injuries during delivery, you may be eligible to take legal action. You may have grounds to pursue compensation from the doctor or hospital to cover your child’s:
- Related medical care
- Ongoing care costs
- Pain and suffering
- Many other types of damages
To learn more about your legal options, you should discuss your case with a birth injury lawyer in your state. Most offer free case reviews, and your attorney will likely handle your case at no out-of-pocket cost to your family. They can help you understand the strength of your case, as well as how long you have to take legal action.
Each state has its own statute of limitations, as well as rules that may allow you to toll this statute of limitations because your child was an infant when they became the victim of medical malpractice. This is why it is vital that your attorney practices birth injury law in your state.
Talk to a Birth Injury Attorney Near You About Your Perinatal Asphyxia Case
If your infant suffered lasting effects because of perinatal asphyxia, and you believe medical negligence played a role, the Birth Injury Lawyers Group can help. When you reach out to the team, the Birth Injury Lawyers Group can discuss your case and help you connect with an attorney who is familiar with the effects of different types of perinatal asphyxia, practices birth injury law, and handles perinatal asphyxia cases in your state.
Call today at (800) 222-9529, and you will be assisted for free.