Birth Asphyxia and Medical Malpractice

Young cute baby girlLack of oxygen or oxygen deprivation at the time of a baby’s birth is called birth asphyxia. It is one of the most common causes of birth injury and leads to brain damage or other complications.

Lack of oxygen or decreased blood flow may lead to a serious condition called hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy or HIE, which needs immediate treatment of therapeutic hypothermia. However, an infant suffering from birth asphyxia is at risk of permanent and irreversible brain damage. Know more about the condition by reading below.

Causes of Birth Asphyxia

Many medical conditions can cause birth asphyxia. In general, these are complications arising from the placenta, uterus, or umbilical cord during pregnancy. Among them are the following:

  • Placental abruption and maternal bleeding
  • Uterine rupture
  • Umbilical cord problems such as nuchal cord (wrapped around the neck), short cord, true knot, and cord prolapse
  • Placental insufficiency associated with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) or fetal growth restriction (FGR)
  • Preeclampsia or high blood pressure condition during pregnancy
  • Placenta previa or when the mother delivers the placenta first
  • Fetal stroke
  • Premature rupture of the membranes or PROM
  • Prolonged and arrested labor
  • Oligohydramnios or low amniotic fluid
  • Maternal hypotension

Birth Asphyxia Can Cause Brain Injuries

Research proves that birth asphyxia can result in brain injuries. The extent of the damage depends on the severity of oxygen deprivation, how long it lasts, the age and oxygen reserves of the infant, and medical management provided.

Typically, careful monitoring of the mother and the baby must be done, especially when it comes to changes in heart rate. Conservative interventions are initially done, such as giving IV fluids and oxygen to the mother and changing positions.

The medical team must also be ready for an immediate C-section to quickly and safely deliver a baby in distress. If not, the following series of damage will take place:

  • Hypercarbia or increase of carbon dioxide levels in the blood
  • Hypoxia or lack of oxygen
  • Ischemia or decreased blood flow
  • Acidosis or too much acid in the body
  • Decreased heart contraction/ function
  • Disruption in waste removal

What Happens to Infants with Birth Asphyxia?

Immediate diagnosis and treatment of infant complications are essential. Birth asphyxia will be evident because the following will manifest in the baby:

  • Cerebral edema or swelling of the brain
  • Seizures, especially during the first 24-48 hours
  • Hypotonia or low muscle tone, also known as floppy or limp
  • Poor feeding or latching
  • Low level of arousal or consciousness
  • Multiple organ issues
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Abnormal responses to light
  • Low scores in APGAR (appearance, pulse, grimace, activity, respiration)

Other long-term effects of birth asphyxia are permanent and irreversible. These are conditions such as:

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  • Cerebral palsy
  • Periventricular Leukomalacia
  • Seizure disorders
  • Intellectual and developmental disabilities
  • Microcephaly
  • Damage to other important parts of the brain as the cerebral cortex and basal ganglia

The asphyxia may manifest in many different ways, but the two most common are the following:

  • Acute, near-total asphyxia or basal ganglia – thalamus pattern of injury, which results mostly in motor impairments. Common conditions associated with this are the different types of cerebral palsy
  • Partial, prolonged asphyxia results in non-motor impairments, which can manifest as a developmental delay, behavioral problem, slow head growth, cognitive impairments, and language delay.

Birth Asphyxia and Potential Birth Injury Lawsuits

Doctors and medical practitioners are trained to monitor the vital signs of the baby. It’s their duty to continually monitor your child’s vital signs, reflexes and activity. They are also trained how to respond when your child’s vitals become unstable. Therefore, they are responsible for keeping both the mother and the child alive and well.

When the medical practitioner fails to recognize the warning signs of birth asphyxia or responds poorly, serious injuries may happen to the baby’s organs. If not treated immediately, the baby may suffer severe brain injury and complications, and even die. If this is the case, the medical practitioner who attended your baby has just performed medical malpractice. Medical malpractice entails that the health worker is responsible for what happened to your child.

Attorneys for Birth Asphyxia Injuries

When it is time to seek the help of a lawyer, choose a team of compassionate attorneys who specialize in birth injury cases. The Clark Law Office has been advocating for infants who suffer from birth injuries like asphyxia. We will look closely into medical malpractice to ensure that children and their families are compensated.

Life after birth asphyxia needs a lot of support financially and emotionally, from therapy and treatments, to future insurance. Make sure you and your loved ones are looked after and protected by the best birth asphyxia attorneys in Michigan. Contact us now for a free legal consultation.


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