There are numerous signs that your child’s brain isn’t getting enough oxygen, such as discolored skin or increased heart rate. These signs may vary depending on the age of the child and how severe the oxygen deprivation is. Oxygen deprivation is often acute, with babies suddenly losing all ability to breathe because of cases such as an umbilical cord incident, but it may also be a chronic condition.
If there are any signs your child is in distress or suffering from a condition such as hypoxia, an absence of oxygen that disrupts bodily functions, you should alert your doctor right away or go to the nearest pediatric emergency department.
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Recognizing Respiratory Distress in Newborns and Infants
In some cases of respiratory distress, a baby may be continuing to breathe, so their body delivers some oxygenated blood to the brain, but it is not enough. Recognizing the signs that your child’s brain isn’t getting enough oxygen can lead to the cause being addressed quickly, and your infant should be monitored for any lasting effects including cognitive developmental disabilities. The signs of respiratory distress may include:
- An increased breathing rate
- An increased heart rate
- Pale, blue, or grey skin, especially on the lips and fingernails
- Grunting, wheezing, or other sounds that indicate a struggle to breathe
- Flaring nostrils
- The chest appears to sink under the breastbone, known as retraction
- Sweating, but with cold and clammy skin
- Using the muscles of the neck, under the ribs, and other areas of the chest to breathe
- Lethargy and changes in alertness
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Signs of Hypoxia and Asphyxia in Newborns
In some cases, babies suffer issues during pregnancy, labor, or delivery that cause problems with the flow of oxygenated blood to their brain. Asphyxia is a more extreme case of hypoxia, indicating a complete deprivation of oxygen. If left untreated and the blood and oxygen supply are not quickly returned to normal levels, the baby may suffer a significant brain injury, including lifelong disabilities. At least 75 percent of neonatal deaths occur during the first week of life, with birth asphyxia being a leading cause in 2017 according to a World Health Organization (WHO) fact sheet published in September 2019.
If a baby who has suffered from hypoxia or asphyxia is born, they may exhibit signs including:
- Weak breathing or no breathing
- Pale, blue or purple skin
- Unusually low heart rate
- Weak reflexes, muscle tone, and other physical concerns
- Acidosis, a build-up of acid in the blood
- Lack of urination
- Blood clotting and circulatory issues
Brain damage may lead to conditions such as epilepsy. Neonatal encephalopathy, any damage or disease that affects the brain, occurs in one to 2.5 of every 1,000 live births and are mostly a result of asphyxia, according to a 2012 study published by the National Center for Biotechnical Information (NCBI). In some cases, it may not be apparent the child was deprived of oxygen until they begin showing symptoms of cerebral palsy, a cognitive delay, or another developmental disability.
Proving an Asphyxia Birth Injury Case
If you believe your child’s brain did not get enough oxygen before, during, or after their birth, you may have a birth injury case against a negligent doctor or the hospital. Working with a medical malpractice lawyer who knows how to navigate the legal system can make building a case and pursuing compensation you may be entitled to easier.
If a lawyer believes you have a case based on your child’s diagnosis, they can take steps to gather evidence and prove medical negligence, liability, and the value of your family’s related damages.
In order to recover compensation you may be entitled to for the damages your child and your family sustained, you need to meet all applicable deadlines, follow the right procedures, and present the necessary and required evidence. Each state has its own statute of limitations and may have its own rules allowing you to toll the statute of limitations for birth injury cases, so it is best to speak with a lawyer familiar with the laws in your state.
Birth injury victims may be entitled to compensation including:
- Medical expenses, both current and future
- Ongoing care costs
- All treatment-related expenses
- Pain and suffering
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Talk to a Member of the Birth Injury Lawyers Group
If you believe your child was the victim of medical malpractice, you can get help starting a case by reaching out to the Birth Injury Lawyers Group. Our team offers free consultations, and we take cases on a contingency-fee basis, so your family will pay nothing unless you recover compensation.
Call (800) 222-9529 to speak with a member of our team.