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…
What Are The Symptoms of Perinatal Asphyxia?
Perinatal asphyxia is diagnosed in large part through visual and physical observation of your baby immediately following his birth. A child born with a birth injury that leads to a diagnosis of perinatal asphyxia will appear pale and unresponsive at birth.
A newborn with perinatal asphyxia may also show signs of injury to their organs and may fail to meet expected standards during newborn assessments that are usually conducted immediately after delivery. The initial physical examination of your newborn typically assesses weight, the condition of their skin, and their heart, lungs, organ systems, and reflexes.
Your child’s health care team will also conduct screening tests to detect problems they cannot see during the physical exam. Screening tests and newborn assessments are important because prompt attention and treatment can reduce the effects of many birth injuries, traumas, and disorders. Additionally, the results of these screening exams can lead to other tests that aid the diagnostic process. Diagnosis might also be made by testing your newborn for severe acid levels, an Apgar score of zero to three for longer than five minutes, and the presence of seizure activity.
Overview of an Apgar Score
Your child’s Apgar score is measured using a quick testing method conducted twice—one minute and five minutes after the birth of your baby. Your newborn’s one-minute Apgar score will define how well he tolerated the process of being born. His five-minute Apgar score will define how well your baby is functioning outside of your womb.
The Apgar test is typically administered by a doctor, nurse, or midwife who carefully examines and scores your baby in five key categories. Each category is scored between zero and two. These are the bedside categories and scoring criteria:
- Breathing Effort: This is the single most important Apgar category. Your baby’s heart rate is evaluated with a standard stethoscope. If a newborn is not breathing at birth, his score is zero. If he is breathing slowly or irregularly, his score is one. If he is breathing as expected and cries well, his score is two.
- Reflexes: Your baby’s grimace response defines his response to stimulation like a mild pinch. If your baby shows no reaction, his score is zero. If he only grimaces, his score is one. If his grimace is accompanied by coughing, sneezing, or crying, his score is two.
- Skin color: If your newborn’s skin has a pale blue tinge, his score will be zero. If his skin is pink but his extremities are tinged with blue, his score will be one. If his whole body is a healthy shade of pink, his score will be two.
- Heart Rate: If your child does not have a detectable heart rate, his score will be zero. If his heart rate is less than one hundred beats per minute, his score will be one. If his heart rate is greater than the expected hundred beats per minute, his score will be two.
- Muscle Tone: If your newborn has muscles that appear loose and floppy, his score will be zero. If he has limited muscle tone, his score will be one. If he shows active motion, his score will be two.
The Apgar test is an important bedside tool because it will help doctors quickly determine if your child needs help breathing or is having heart trouble. A low score can be caused by a difficult birth and indicate your child’s need for immediate assistance.
How Perinatal Asphyxia Can Be Prevented
When the potential for having a baby born with perinatal asphyxia is detected early enough, certain measures can be taken that might help avoid this condition in your newborn. Preventative treatments might include supplying you with extra amounts of oxygen during labor and prior to the delivery of your son or daughter. Perinatal asphyxia might also be avoided by opting for C-section delivery for your baby, using a mechanical breathing machine, or administering certain medications.
Birth Injury Lawsuit for Perinatal Asphyxia
When perinatal asphyxia is diagnosed in your new baby is cause for alarm and concern. You might be left with a plethora of questions and a longing for answers. An attorney can put you in touch with medical experts who can help you understand how your baby came to be diagnosed with perinatal asphyxia and what it can mean for their future.
You are entitled to answers, your child is entitled to the best medical care available, and you might even be entitled to a monetary award that will allow you to provide them with the medical care and treatments they deserve. Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at (800) 222-9529 to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation legal consultation today.
Perinatal asphyxia can lead to severe brain damage and physical challenges for your child. The effects of perinatal asphyxia will vary according to how severe the resulting damage to your child is. Most newborns with perinatal asphyxia will seem ashen, colorless, or pale at birth and might also appear to be limp, flaccid, or lifeless….