Although most child deliveries happen without complications, in rare cases a child may suffer an injury during birth that can lead to serious complications down the road. One of the more common forms of birth injury is asphyxia. In some cases, birth asphyxia may result from the negligence of the delivery team.
What Is Birth Asphyxia?
Birth asphyxia, also known as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, refers to an injury that is caused when a baby is deprived of oxygen right before, during, or right after birth. Reduced oxygen or a lack of oxygen can quickly lead to brain damage.
Birth asphyxia can lead to any number of other birth injuries or long-term complications. For example, birth asphyxia can commonly result in cerebral palsy, a condition resulting from a brain injury that causes difficulty controlling the muscles and may also cause seizures and other physical or cognitive impairments. The brain damage caused by birth asphyxia can also lead to other long-term developmental delays or cognitive or behavioral impairments. A baby’s quality of life can be greatly improved if they receive prompt care and rehabilitation for the effects of any brain damage caused by birth asphyxia.
Why Do Babies Suffer Birth Asphyxia?
While some cases of birth asphyxia happen due to natural, unavoidable consequences, other cases can be attributed to mistakes or negligence committed by the healthcare professional attending the delivery.
Birth asphyxia that occurs prior to delivery may be caused by lower levels of oxygen in the mother’s bloodstream. The mother may have lower oxygen in her blood due to lowered respiration and blood pressure from anesthesia or epidurals administered prior to delivery. Birth asphyxia may occur prior to delivery due to a placental detachment or due to a pinched umbilical cord. Delivery teams need to act quickly if they see signs of a placental detachment or prolapsed umbilical cord.
Other causes of birth asphyxia include:
- Difficult or lengthy delivery
- Infection in either the mother or baby
- Blockage in the baby’s airway
- Mother’s high or low blood pressure
- Anemia, a condition which results in the baby’s blood not being able to carry sufficient oxygen
- Amniotic fluid in the baby’s lungs
- Premature birth occurring when the baby’s lungs are underdeveloped
Signs and Symptoms of Birth Asphyxia
Signs that a baby is suffering from birth asphyxia include:
- Pale or bluish skin color or tone
- Low heart rate
- Weak or shallow breathing, or lack of respiration
- Poor muscle tone or weak reflexes
- Fecal matter in the amniotic fluid
- Acidosis, a condition characterized by too much acid in the baby’s blood.
Read more: How Does an Umbilical Cord Accident Happen?
Your Family’s Rights After a Birth Asphyxia Injury
If your child suffered a birth asphyxia injury that may have been caused by the negligence of your healthcare providers, you may have rights and options to seek financial compensation for your child and your family, including for:
- Medical treatment expenses, including extended stays in the hospitals or surgeries or other medical procedures to treat the damage caused by the asphyxia.
- Long-term care expenses, including physical, occupational, and speech therapy and other services to help a child if they suffer from developmental delays caused by birth asphyxia.
- Reduced quality of life or reduced life expectancy due to medical conditions caused by asphyxia.
- Pain and suffering.
Contact A Medical Malpractice Attorney for a Consultation About Your Birth Injury Case in Pennsylvania
Were you or a loved one injured as a result of a birth injury in Pennsylvania? Then you need to talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible for guidance on how to proceed. The Pittsburgh birth injury attorneys at Matzus Law LLC are prepared to assist you with your legal claim. We represent victims of negligent surgeons, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists throughout Pennsylvania, including Butler, Cranberry Township, Greensburg, and Washington. Call us today at (412) 206-5300 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation. Our main office is located at 310 Grant St., Suite 3210, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.