Hypoxia is a medical term referring to a condition in which a part of the body suffers from a lack of oxygen. During labor and delivery, the oxygen supply to a newborn’s brain can be interrupted, resulting in cerebral hypoxia.
If the oxygen supply is entirely cut off, doctors call this anoxia, which is an extreme form of hypoxia. Because many of the most severe long-term birth injuries involve trauma to a newborn’s brain, the moments leading up to and immediately after birth are crucial to the child’s healthy development.
Symptoms of Oxygen Deprivation
Not all hypoxia cases are alike. Some infants may be born with observable symptoms, such as labored breathing or severe difficulty with breathing. If a newborn presents with these symptoms, the child may be in either an anoxic or hypoxic state and require immediate medical intervention.
Typically, doctors will place these newborns on hyperbaric oxygen therapy to make up for the lack of oxygen. This treatment involves placing a baby in a sealed chamber containing pure oxygen in the hope that the additional oxygen will make up for the decreased oxygen intake during birth. Ensuring prompt medical attention for hypoxic babies is essential – left untreated, hypoxia can cause cerebral palsy or other severe disorders.
Some babies who suffer oxygen deprivation during birth may appear to breathe normally, yet damage might still have occurred. Even if a newborn is breathing normally, medical professionals should be able to detect signs that the infant nevertheless suffered from a lack of oxygen. Part of this determination is situational, meaning that doctors who assisted with a long or difficult delivery should suspect that the baby may have suffered from a reduced oxygen supply. Symptoms of a prior hypoxic state include jerky and awkward movements, weakness, and a potential lack of consciousness. Even babies who were born breathing but previously suffered from hypoxia can develop cerebral palsy or other serious conditions if untreated.
Causes of Hypoxia
Cerebral hypoxia is caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain. When a child suffers from hypoxia, the critical question is what caused the lack of oxygen in the first place. Often, hypoxia stems from especially difficult labor, but certain risk factors like infection, congenital heart disease, shoulder dystocia, and injury to the umbilical cord increase the likelihood that a child will develop hypoxia.
Even when these risk factors are present, there is usually a precipitating event that causes oxygen deprivation. In cases of difficult labor, this may be due to complications related to the umbilical cord or the delivering physician’s inability to quickly and safely deliver the baby.
Consult With a Recognized and Respected Michigan Birth Injury Law Firm
If your child suffered irreversible damage during the labor or delivery process, it might have been prevented with proper medical care. Preventable birth injuries can be the basis for a successful medical malpractice lawsuit.
When you choose Sommers Schwartz to handle your birth injury claim, you can be sure your child and your case are in capable hands. At our Michigan-based medical malpractice law office, we have a proud history of representing families in lawsuits involving preventable birth injuries, including claims of oxygen-deprivation during labor. To learn more or schedule a free consultation, call 800-783-0989 today.